More in the Wildsnow department of tortuous excogitation: We often see the invocation of “scientific wildlife studies” to prove what is appropriate in human’s use of the land, such as trails. From what I’ve seen over the years, placing faith in “studies” however scientific can be suspect when they involve life forms, human or otherwise. The recent news coverage about how billions of dollars in human diet studies yield almost no useful results is the case in point. New York Times article is quite amusing. Read it, weep, immediately quaff a whole milk latte, scarf bacon for breakfast, and nibble quinoa for dinner. It’s all perfect, on paper somewhere in a file cabinet.
If you’ve spent much time in the Alps you know that alpine club membership is a key ingredient in everything from getting the best prices at huts, to having the correct rescue insurance for ski touring accidents. As a result, membership numbers are exploding. Check this report about the Swiss club. If you’re planning a mountain recreation trip to western Europe remember to join a club, our favorite is the Austrian’s just because they invented modern skiing — as far as we’re concerned, anyhow. Tip, to get the easiest English language version of the Austrian club, use their UK website.
Many of you voracious consumers of internet ski content have probably noticed that ski touring went mainstream a few years ago, evidenced by everyone from the New York Times to Outside Magazine ramping up their coverage. The cynical take on this is that all of us web publishers are mercenary and go where the interest is just so we can sell advertising. While somewhat true, that’s not necessarily dark (it brings the content). And each business is different.
Niche sites like ours stick to our mission not matter what our traffic or ad sales inspire. The Dawson family publishing web-pire has been blessed by supportive sponsors, but our primary goal is to share something we love, not sit here looking at spreadsheets. Other publishers have more a mix of passion and needing to keep a bottom line in the black. Ink-paper magazines, for example, clearly have to create cash flow for multiple employees and those printing presses. Along those lines, we’ve noticed a recent uptick in Powder Magazine re-publishing their older pre-internet content as look-backs — with associated Google listings as “news” articles. If anyone should be doing that, it’s them. We pity the intern (or Indian content factory worker) that’s tasked with keyboarding all the old stuff… but overall, hats off to Powder for honoring our sport by sharing the history as a “45th Anniversary Celebration.” Indeed, Powder has been more than 40 years faithful to human powered skiing while most other ski magazines shoved out amazing quantities of borish verbiage, mostly pertaining to the resort du jour, spiced with tips about mogul skiing. Example here.
And not to be left out, the first writing I ever got paid for in print was published in Powder Mag. My version is here, a bit embarrassing, somewhat amusing, and thoroughly humbling for me even many decades later.
There is a bit of a push happening media-wise regarding pioneer climber and ski mountaineer Fred Beckey. This AP article is pretty good, but the story of Fred could take volumes. Or a movie. To that end, check out this Kickstarter for a documentary film about Fred. Worth supporting. As for the AP article, it says Fred is obsessed with climbing. The man does probably have more first ascents than anyone in history (though some prolific climbers who focus on shorter crag routes might beat Beckey in shear number of lines). The article also talks Beckey’s “black book” of possible conquests — both climbs…and women. I keep hearing that the famous book is apocryphal, but I climbed with Beckey and my memory is that not only was he as obsessed with women as he was with climbing, but that he definitely had lists of both. As the saying goes, “you got any phone numbers, baby?”
(Fred Beckey is not currently known as a ski mountaineer, and indeed his career is mostly about climbing. But he did quite a bit of skiing in his younger years and has a few mentions in my publishing about ski touring.)
And lastly, what would you say if you saw me riding around Franz Joseph International on this? Save your legs for the hills, have time for a beer, but not burn calories like the usual airport hikes? Jury is out? Below is for another Kickstarter (that website provides more amusement than a powder day in Hokkaido, as a figure of speech, anyhow…).
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.