Opinion varies on how much we should restrict mechanized use of non-wilderness land. But it’s clear that more restrictions on snowmobiles are likely. While all other motorized vehicles are highly regulated in USFS forest management plans, “over snow vehicles” are loopholed and not included with the other modes of transport. This is somewhat logical, as totally restricting snowmobiles to existing roads and trails would be a reach (for example, roads get obscured by snow or are not practical routes), and writing a specific management plan for sleds would be expensive and fraught with political landmines.
On the other hand, as snowmobile use inevitably increases so to will management of their land use. Mark Menlove and his group Winter Wildlands Alliance (WWA) are pushing for that (the management part). Sometimes they push too hard for my taste (I’m more into sharing non-wilderness land), but their mission has merit. Here are some words from Mark.
Meanwhile, I’m ever more an advocate of ALL backcountry recreators coming together in some fashion to iron out their differences and put up a united front against things that might ruin it for everyone (say, something like a huge mining project, or yes, too much restrictive federal Wilderness). Here in our corner of Colorado, White River Forest Alliance might provide the best structure for that. While WRFA was founded as an access advocacy group from a mostly motorized perspective, they’re well aware of the earthquake we’ve had around here (west central Colorado) in people’s attitudes about how much legal Wilderness we need — this being especially true in the case of mountain bicycling. Hence, it’s possible they could shift to be more all-encompassing and do recreation advocacy for all forms of backcountry play.
As you all know, our stance here at WildSnow.com is indeed one of recreation advocacy, so we’re watching groups such as WWA and WRFA to see which can be inclusive coalition builders for those of us who engage in multiple forms of recreation — motorized and non.
Well, as all you wildsnowers know, backcountry skiing and ski touring are God’s gift to the universe. The commercial resort skiing industry has of course caught on to that simple truth, and every year you see this or that resort promote their “backcountry skiing.” Some really do have what I’d define as “backcountry,” albeit lift served to some extent. While others just open up some rougher terrain, don’t groom it, perhaps require a short hike, then promote their “backcountry.” Take Cannon Mountain for example. This winter they’ll provide 86 acres with “no snowmaking, limited grooming,” and perhaps most importantly for that backcountry feel, “extensive rescue time.” I guess they’ll have to edit the disclaimer on their lift tickets. More here.
Now this is cool. David Ebner has less than two months to get in shape for a Selkirk Mountain Experience hut trip (read, mega vert). So he’s going on a scientific training binge to theoretically arrive at the hut fit enough to keep up with the Ruedi. Reminds me of what I’m doing with Denali, only I’ve got six months and my issue isn’t aerobics, but rather strength. Even so, I have to keep that cardio up. So after a nice bike ride yesterday it’s off to the pool this morning. I’m not that scientific, but do study up on this stuff and know that for me duration seems to be the key, as I get plenty of intensity just doing my normal day-to-day backcountry activites such as biking, hiking, and yes, skiing.
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.