Here in Colorado, this past summer and fall have been dry as the Sahara. A drought as severe as any I remember — yet perhaps short-lived. Last night we got nearly a foot of powder in our yard, and our record sized wildfires received a dosing any ski resort would brag on for days. The Troublesome inferno got nearly two feet in some areas! You’d think dumpage like that would douse the flames. Apparently not, though I’m hearing the cold temps (ten below zero here this morning) and precip will greatly facilitate containment. I wish we could send some of that California’s direction.
As for my own myopic view of matters, a snow dump like this gets me as excited for ski touring as ever. A bout of web browsing stoked the fire. Some of the more compelling things I ran across:
Probably the biggest ski touring news here in the Centennial state is the authorities charging two backcountry snowboarders with reckless endangerment, for triggering an avalanche that buried a road. I’m not keen on these guys being singled out, as they self reported the incident as responsible backcountry users. On the other hand, we might all think about the times we’ve skied avy slopes above open roads, and how that might not be the most caring — nor wise — activity at other than during the most stable times. More here.
Skimo will be big this season. Yeah, I’ve said that before. And I’m always right. It just keeps growing, like the new scraggly grey-haired kitten my wife brought home the other day. His name is Koko, he likes to play get-that-mouse, otherwise known as kitty soccer. Whoops, I digress.
Question is, what influence will the pandemic have on the skimo race scene? I checked out the NE racing website. They have a nice roster of 2020/21 comps, along with what appears to be a comprehensive rules supplement specific to Covid. I’m not an epidemiolgist, but as many of you have I’ve studied Covid until my eyes spun, and my guess is if the general public followed a set of precautionary measures such as NE Rando’s, our tedious pandemic would end overnight. I can dream, can’t I?
Hey, if you ski tour, you probably drive to your tours. I’m loving the latest compact SUVs. We’re not car shopping at the moment, but doing so is on the horizon. This article got me thinking… We’re partial to the Nissan Rogue after using a previous model loaner for a while last year. Apparently it can be had with all-wheel-drive without dunning you for leather seats, “They have a cross stitch pattern!” Though I’d suspect the dealers will play the, “We have to order that, you got four months?” game. Those three of you out there who shop for something other than a Subi, let us know.
For a meager $3,660 you too can know everything there is to know about the ski touring bindings business. Let us know if you bite. This is the same company that brought us the ever incredible study of the parking brake cable market. Geek take: I don’t know what these guys are doing for search engine optimization — they must have some geniuses at the helm — as about a million listings of their report teaser are dominating GoogSearch. Yet another illustration of how Google might be god, but only with a small G.
If you’ve ever alpine skied in the Alps, you know that beer sloshing butt-to-shoulder crowded apres’ ski confabs are part of the fun. Same for ski touring, to one degree or another. I think every cold I’ve ever caught in Europe has been from attending one of those, and perhaps even the time I got the flu. It’s no surprise those types of carnivals won’t be part of Austrian skiing this winter, at least not publicly. More here.
Has it ever occurred to you how weird our sport can be regarding risk? I mean, how many other sports involve smiling fun with friends and loved ones, combined with conversations on how to cheat death? Not all ski touring has to be that way, of course, and we’re getting more and more ways to make 100% safe days happen. Uphilling resorts, skiing hippy pow, you name it. But in my view the designated backcountry skiing resort might be the most viable way to have fun doing human powered skiing, while not devoting your conversations to words such as: “This one felt pretty good, let’s move over to that next couloir, I’ll ski cut it, let’s set up a rope belay, and Jim, you brought that first aid kit with the airways, didn’t you?”
Need gear? It’s going fast. I suggest not procrastinating key items you need to make the coming winter safe and fun. More info here.
If you made it this far in my diatribe, perhaps you’re a ski touring noob looking for ideas. In that regard, I’m throwing in the towel on my efforts to encourage North Americans to ski tour anywhere overseas but the mountains near Chamonix (once Covid is gone). Just go there — sigh. The fried potatoes are expensive, but the high Alps are beautiful and the French do know how to build a salad. A somewhat commercialized but useful take.
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.