In local WildSnow news with international import: Through the funding of a variety of private sector sources, including publishing partners Cripple Creek Backcountry and The North Face, Colorado Avalanche Information Center will continue daily regional for an additional week, but more importantly, instead of virtually shutting down their operation while people are still snow recreating, they’ll provide various types of forecasts through Memorial Day. Anyone know how this compares to European avalanche forecasting operations? Colorado Avalanche Information Center
Clearly, big (belated and well covered elsewhere, google it) news is Mike Foote’s record uphill/downhill of 62,000 vertical feet in 24 hours. I’m told he did 1,020 vertical foot laps at Whitefish, Montana. North Face sponsored the effort, which was quite elaborate though nicely grass roots. “Amenities” included a grooming cat assigned to keeping his route smooth, and a TNF dome tent at the bottom of his route where helpers maintained several pairs of skis so Foote could simply ski into the tent, step out of his planks, then step into another pair ready to uphill or downhill. More than 60 laps… it’s said the lapster couldn’t walk for a week afterwards. Just a week? Even that is amazing. I like the video.
Bonus linkage: For those who are not Mike Foote and looking to purchase a trailhead approach vehicle (TAV), here is what not to buy, but fun to read about.
At the OR show in January, I ran across Quietkat, a company making super slick off-road electric bicycles. Gated roads getting you down? A solution exists. Check them out.
Electric bicycles and other such things lead me to thoughts about public lands. As I’d imagine is the case with many of you, I’m sick of biased news media and downright fake content — junk that’s sometimes only obvious when you drill down into an issue. For example, High Country News is excellent — and clearly biased. Which is fine so long as they’re up front. But they fell recently into potentially misleading reporting about the U.S. Department of Commerce designating “Outdoor Recreation” as a specific economic category generating “$373 billion toward the gross domestic product in 2016, about two percent of the total.” Moreover, in another HCN article the Outdoor Industry Association is quoted as stating “nationwide, the industry generates $646 billion in consumer spending each year.” The latter for 2012, so somehow the number went from 646 billion in 2012 to 373 in 2016? The answer to that discrepancy is probably too complex to detail here, but either number is rather large, and perhaps not “fake” other than how they’re derived.
Beyond the bouncing numbers, here is the problem and what shifts this possibly into the “junk” category. These numbers are gleefully alluded to in various ways when the human-powered side of the outdoor industry, represented for example by the Outdoor Industry Association — while those same numbers conflate motorized recreation (power boating, snowmobiling, off road vehicles and resort skiing) with rock climbing, hiking and other human powered pursuits. Don’t get me wrong, I like anything that supports human powered fun, but let’s not fake it. Something to think about.
Want to see something mind boggling? Regarding the issues of heuristics and cognitive bias when it comes to making life-and-death decisions while having fun skiing a bit of powder with your friends, check out this flow chart. Easy to see how mistakes are made. Trust me, this thing is amazing, just don’t let avalanche educators get hold of it, in five minutes of reading they’ll have 25 new jargon phrases to add to their heuristics lecture.
I’ve got great faith in some aspects of the latest adult generation, mainly their willingness to act or at least advocate out of the box on issues such as housing and transportation. Huge issues anywhere, and certainly in our mountain towns. Check out this take, it’ll make you fume but perhaps have hope. Operative point: Municipalities have spent a century bowing to the automobile, now they whine and moan about scooters and e-bikes that might solve the problem. Please.
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.