UPDATE 2018: I got a lot of flack for my ideas presented below (near bottom of blog post) about OR show boycotts being a crock. Looks like I might have been partially right and somewhat equally wrong. First, here is a list of who, according to media googling, claimed they’d boycott SLC Outdoor Retailer, and ostensibly show up if the show was moved. We’ll, the show did get moved to Denver and some of the would-be boycotters did NOT show up even though they got their way, scorecard:
Patagonia — Showed up in Denver 2018
Peak Design — Not at Denver
Polartec — Showed up, Denver
Arc’teryx — Not at Denver (This is the big one, them not showing up in Denver is troublesome)
Metolius — Not at Denver, perhaps only summer?
Kuhl — Showed up at Denver
Power Practical — Not at Denver
Kokopelli Packraft – Not at Denver, but perhaps they only do summer show
Bedrock Sandals – Not at Denver, but perhaps only summer show
Anyone know of any other promised “boycotts?”
Where I was entirely wrong is I did not think actions (in the form of words and posturing) by Utah legislators would engender any change in the status of existing National Monuments. Instead, the size of several National Monuments was indeed reduced, despite the show being moved and so forth. That is disconcerting, as any thinking person must ponder the real purpose (or at least actual results) behind all the posturing about boycotts and relocation. Was all this effort made to actually have political influence, or just create an excuse for moving the show to Colorado due to distaste for Utah? Your guess is as good as mine. Indeed, where I’m right is it doesn’t appear the effort and expense of moving the show and doing boycotts made any difference to anything from Utah politics to the price of tea in China.
Overall, every permutation of this is super interesting. For example, at the 2018 Outdoor Show in Denver, one big company higher-up told me it was “time to start on Colorado, and do something about all that fracking.” Well, if “doing something about fracking” has the same results as doing something about Utah’s public land politics, just look for business as usual.
I wonder at the number of times I’ve flown out of the Aspen airport on the fifty minute Denver hop. Not as many trips as the lawyers and other bigwigs who commute to and fro, but enough to have lost count years ago. As with anything repetitive, I suppose there are those veterans who might nap during the flight until awoken by the rough air often encountered when you hit the invisible rotors over the Continental Divide.
Not me. I’m not the guy napping until my head snaps like a bullwhip and cracks my face into the folded meal tray. Nope, I’m the guy with my nose glued to the Plexiglas checking out my beloved Colorado mountains. If I’m injured, it’ll be from my neck twisting like a tourist choosing meat and cheese at their first Italian buffet breakfast. Seriously, could happen.
Most flights from Aspen east to Denver do their takeoff in the opposite direction, heading westerly during the roll. That means for a few minutes a left window seat gets a grandstand view of the high Elk Mountains leading to Mount Sopris, the signature peak rising over WildSnow home town of Carbondale. In what feels like a double “jink” sort of maneuver, the aircraft swings east. At that point, you’re hosed if you’re in the left-hand, now the right-hand windows have a grand view of Colorado’s highest jags.
Soon you’re gliding over the Continental Divide with Colorado’s highest peak, Mount Elbert to your right. Elbert’s sister peak Mount Massive is just a tiny bit lower but much closer. It’s clearly more burly than Elbert, a stupendous massif with numerous summits and nearly endless ski terrain that’s usually as crowded with ski tourers as something you’d reach after a 2-day burro trek in the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca.
Seconds later the village of Leadville is obvious, with 14,000+ foot Mount Sherman humping up behind. Another good ski peak though the upper reaches are often wind scoured. Leadville is in a strange location. You don’t realize it when you’re there on the ground, but when viewed from the air you see how the town is perched on a high altitude shelf above what are possibly much more friendly locations. It’s up there because that’s where the silver was during the mining boom of the eighteen hundreds.
A few minutes and often a few turbulence bumps later, you’re over Colorado’s eastern plains and it’s wheels down at Denver International Airport.
My layover isn’t long. I get to the Lufthansa departure gate and first thing notice it’s not a full flight. That’s what you look for on these things — you want that extra vacant seat next to you or it’s 50-50 you’re in for a world of hurt. It could be ten hours with someone else’s baby kicking your arm, or a big fat guy snoring ten inches from your left ear. Amazing what we endure to avoid going by boat.
While tuning my seat assignment I joke around with the friendly counter person about a 1st class upgrade. “Only $965,” she says, “and it’s yours.” I’m reading a Lee Child novel and he says Jack Reacher got the upgrade for free while wearing his military uniform. I thought my WildSnow.com bill cap would get me in there too.
The half full Airbus A330-300 just feels so, right. I kick back in a double on the deuce isle next to the port windows. Yes, I’ve got the empty seat next to me. The movie selection is for some reason more dismal than expected, but I find a Beatles music documentary and bounce between that and a wonderful animation of the flight in progress. Beautiful, switching between different views including what you’d see out the cockpit windows or simulating the look down as if you’re in another plane flying above the A330.
After a Lufthansa glass or two, I curl up on the seats, pull on my eye shields on and plug my ears, and wake up 45 minutes from Munich with the snack cart bumping my feet. Coffee, tea, or orange juice?
Quick note: I’ve been asked why I go to the effort of attending ISPO Munich. Beyond the excuse to travel Europe, I allude to reasons in my recent ISPO blog posts: for example, access to principle management in European based concerns. Another reason for attending ISPO is all brands are there, ski and other. It’s simply big, and cool, with record attendance this year due to an increase of 6 percent to more than 80,000 attendees!
More, the trade show situation in the U.S. has become a joke. Not only are the “shows” split up between three confusing and resource draining venues (OR in Salt Lake, SIA in Denver, and regional “rep” shows), but companies such as Arc’teryx and Patagonia are playing games with which shows they’re attending.
Recently, Arc’teryx and Patagonia announced they wouldn’t be displaying at OR 2018 due to the proposals and attitudes of certain Utah politicians regarding public lands. That sounds like BS to me, as Utah isn’t going to destroy their public lands and outdoor recreation any more than Colorado is doing so with industrial skiing, or Wyoming is with ranching. Further, it’s not clear how much power the Utah politicians nor even the President really have in this game.
I suspect that the reality is far different. My suspicion is a lot of companies are wondering why they are spending upwards of half a million dollars to do the OR trade show, when most orders are written at other times and the internet does a fine job of getting gear information out to the public — with or without trade shows.
My suspicion is that Arc’teryx and Patagonia have found a way to bow out and look good while doing so, by playing the environmental card, when they’ve probably been thinking for some time that they should and could reduce their expenditures on trade showing.
And spend the money on ISPO?
(Addendum: Perhaps the numbers tell the tale. This year’s 2017 ORWM had a nearly 10% attendance drop from ORWM 2016. We noticed the quieter show this season, so I wasn’t surprised at these numbers. As to my point here, what if you were spending a boatload of cash on a trade show, and no one came? While the ISPO actually increased by 6% and has more than eight times the attendance?)
Indeed, both companies looked good at ISPO Munich, while I’m sure they could find excellent reasons to boycott it as well if they wanted. For example, every year they’re building ski lifts in the Tirol on perfectly fine ski touring routes, or is that too far away from Munich to register? On the other hand, Germany is looking pretty good in terms of their environmental progress, and they don’t have issues about preserving vast tracts of defacto wilderness — because they have none. Perhaps Patagonia should move it’s offices from California to Deutschland?
Don’t get me wrong here, I like both Arc’teryx and Patagonia. It’s just that this boycott of a tradeshow due to the state it’s in seems inauthentic and poorly considered.
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.