Keeping it slow news is a good thing, these are topsy-turvy times. Here’s some good news: Winter hit deep in November (and it continues) and saw a corresponding uptick in ski width. What follows is some backcountry-related news as we stream toward the winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.
Always some light reading when you want to divert from some of the mayhem. A piece this weekend in the NYT is backcountry ski related. Taking Back the Mountains, Big resorts are crowded, pricey and exclusive. But some skiers and snowboarders are trying to reclaim their sports by building a culture that is more inclusive and sustainable. Here’s how,” is worth a read on many levels.
The piece raises some great points; it covers some good work in building equity in and around the slopes. It also spins off in places to explore the realm of backcountry skiing. The cover art accompanying the piece features a tracked-out on-piste hellscape contrasted with a lone figure, making wiggles down a sunlit, mostly untracked slope. We assume we know where WildSnow readers prefer to be.
At one point in the piece, the author, David Goodman, writes, “At Stowe, Vt., on a powder day last winter, I sat for 45 minutes in a miles-long traffic jam on the two-lane Mountain Road while trying to reach Stowe Mountain Resort. I gave up and went backcountry skiing instead.”
Powder days are nearly always crowded days at resorts. (We’d also love to see an analysis, if someone can link to it, of how much faster, given the same number of skiers at a resort, the powder gets tracked out considering pre/post implementation of the high-speed quad.)
As already noted, the article travels in many directions; backcountry skiing is one of many that include housing issues, ski pass issues, and the concept that skiing can be “sustainable.” If you don’t have an NYT subscription, it looks like non-subscribers have 10 “gift” articles per month. So have a read, and the comments, of which at last count there were nearly 600, are worth a read too.
This is old news, hopefully; your avalanche center likely began forecasting recently. (With that in mind, if you have the resources, consider becoming a member of your go-to avalanche center since it is the giving season.) The newer news is what’s going on out in the field. If you are in a region with a relatively stable snowpack, a solid learning opportunity is perusing avalanche reports from avalanche centers further afield.
A glance at the Utah Avalanche Center’s site revealed a slide on Saturday, Dec. 3, which caught our eye: the depth was three feet, with a width of 250 feet, and it ran 800 feet. A skier remotely triggered the avalanche as the group ascended a ridgeline— the report states the party was six feet from the ridgeline. The photos submitted are nothing but sobering. Thankfully no one was hurt. And thanks for filing a report.
Update: The image above is a screenshot from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) showing avalanche warnings from Dec. 4, 3:30 PM through Dec. 6, 3:30 PM. The regions included in the warning are the Flat Tops, Elk Head Mountains, Park Range, and the Gore and Front Ranges. On the danger scale, the forecasts are “high” in several portions of Colorado: natural avalanches are likely, while human-triggered avalanches are very likely.
Please read the forecast discussion from your respective avalanche center when checking out the forecast. You can read CAIC’s Northern Mountains Regional Discussion here.
Let’s look towards uplifting in this next and last news segment. In early October, WildSnow ran a review of the new ski film Nexus.
“Nexus – a connection or series of connections linking two things or more – is aptly named,” Jordan Broznya wrote about Nexus. “Throughout the film, the story follows five pairs of friends drawn to the mountains and skiing for different reasons. They have diverse stories and backgrounds. They have different motivations and different upbringings. Spoiler alert: they all rip.
Here’s another spoiler alert, Nexus is a ski film produced and directed by women and starring women. If you missed the Teton premier or felt like bypassing the ski film tour scene, you can now watch Nexus at home, on the road, or wherever wifi or cell service finds you. The movie is posted online on the Arc’teryx Youtube channel.
While most of the WildSnow backcountry skiing blog posts are best attributed to a single author, some work well as done by the group.