I’ll call him Bill, my environmentalist friend who apprises me of the apocalyptic consequences of just about anything a human being does — or sometimes even thinks. Bill and I joke around because he knows I’m a moderate and he’s sort of a fanatic. Actually, he is a fanatic.
Bill is the kind of guy who pretty much hates ski resorts, so he’s not a big fan of Sen. Mark Udall’s bill to encourage year-round recreation at ski areas. According to Bill, resorts are already “wilderness petting zoos” and we “don’t need to promote any more industrial recreation on public land.”
I tend to agree with Bill about the downside of industrial tourism. Only I feel that here in Colorado we have plenty of room and our existing ski resorts might as well operate as year-around resorts. So I’m a fan of Udall’s legislation. Sorry Bill.
One of our brethren backcountry skiers died while summer skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park this past Sunday. Lacy Meadows was on a solo trek and was found on a snowfield in the southern part of the park. Cause of death is unknown at this time but sources say he probably took a sliding fall on snow and hit rocks. Condolences to Lacy’s friends and loved ones. According to his friend Brittany Walker, “Lacy was from West Virginia originally, and spent some time in the army before moving out here to Colorado. He was one of the most genuine people anyone has ever met. He had an energy that was so positive and so vibrant. There are so many who are mourning his loss, and he will be missed hugely.” More here.
Another thing Bill and I were speaking about recently is the underground coal fire that is perpetually burning in the coal fields west of here. You can see the evidence of this thing when you drive west on Interstate 70 from Glenwood Springs, Colorado in the winter after a snowfall. You might notice the incongruous looking melted off areas in the hills to the side of the road, those are areas over the fire. Turns out coal fires are both natural and man-made. They are an environmental disaster that receives little attention, but produces an incredible 3% of the world’s annual Co2 emissions according to this article in Time Magazine. Why do I mention this? Just to put our exhaust pipes into perspective.
I’m tracking the possible first ski descent of K2. It sounds like Fredrik Ericsson is in a dicy situation with still a faint chance of success. He and companion Trey Cook are near the summit, have encountered some difficult climbing that delayed their schedule. and say they are NOT going to summit. But it’s not over till it’s over. Mainly, of course, this is K2 and the boys need to come back alive. That’s probably their focus now, as it is for nearly anyone who climbs high on that scary dangerous mountain. Latest is here.
Do you like the sometimes hokey but sometimes stunning ski sequences that Hollywood sometimes works into their action films? Sounds like there might be a good one in “Inception.” More here.
In what I think is big news for the backcountry skiing culture, Jackson Hole has slashed the price of it’s unlimited season pass. If you buy it as the early-bird deal this August, it’ll be $1,255. That’s a 25% reduction from last year’s price and the lowest you can get a full ride Jackson pass for since the 1980s (locals, please correct me if my numbers are off). Why is this news for backcountry skiing? Simply because the Jackson ski culture is in a large part inspired or even birthed from the big gnarly resort where skiing inbounds can prepare you for nearly anything you’ll encounter out of bounds. Thus, if skiing the Jackson resort is too expensive it drives the core skiers away, looses its relevance, and the culture could dry up.
Of course the best deal on a Jackson Pass is the senior version at $815.00 (ages 65 and over). It’ll be pretty funny in 30 years or so when a bunch of today’s young Jackson freeriders have aged and are up there with their cheapo senior passes, ripping it up on bionic knees, arcing turns on who knows what technology. There might be so many skiers using the senior pass by then that they have to put a speed limit on it, something like “only available at 65 years or older, no skiing over 35 mph.” More here.
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.