Law of unintended consequences: Some years ago, environmentalists pushed for creation of small pocket wilderness areas in the Utah Wasatch mountains. Such legal wilderness is frequently too far from road access for much human-powered winter recreation such as backcountry skiing. It’s also illegal to use with machinery. Result: helicopter skiers and human powered backcountry skiers are forced together in more accessible areas of the Wasatch. Creating legal wilderness is a harsh way to protect our backcountry, and may even result in over-use of other land, thus destroying as much “wilderness value” as it creates. Perhaps we need another land designation that allows limited mechanized access but still protects the land from overzealous development?
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.