Like most of you, 9/11 affected me profoundly. I remember that morning so well, sitting here at this same desk ten years ago I turned on the radio to get the news — there it was.
I was making my living as a computer consultant at the time as well as doing some writing here and there, having transitioned out of the construction trades a few years before. After that day, my phone quit ringing. Along with the rest of the country my wife and I began a lengthy struggle to keep our finances working. We gradually clawed our way up by virtue of hard work and optimism, but we’re still far from giving Apple Computer a run and we both work our tails off. Main thing, yesterday I continued to grieve for innocent life lost at the Twin Towers and in subsequent wars.
We do live in a wonderful, beautiful world. But it is most certainly not 100% roses. Optimism, confidence and hard work are key. As our President said last night, “It will be said of us that we kept the faith, that we took a painful blow and emerged stronger.” That’s definitely what happened to WildSnow.com, and I wish that for all of you.
To that end, to bring it over to the positive side, is the following face shot fest the ultimate stoke? You decide.
Brody Leven, eaten by Tahoe pow from Brody Leven on Vimeo.
Above, Brody Leven backcountry skiing in the deepest of deep Sierra powder. Enjoying the liftless Lake Tahoe mountains.
So, what’s happening at WildSnow.com HQ as we keep the faith according to instructions from Mr. Obama? Nick is back on the case with our avalanche airbag backpack coverage. He and I are working keeping our avalanche airbag overview updated and accurate. Along with that, we’ll have more airbag pack reviews filtering in over the coming weeks and months.
As the backcountry skiing airbag rucks achieve new levels of weight reduction combined with function and ease-of-use, we expect this to be the big winter when airbags achieve significant market penetration.
That said, we continue to feel many available packs are too heavy for backcountry skiing, and encourage all manufacturers to disabuse themselves of the notion that they have to build airbag packs for military combat missions. In our view, so long as the airbag stays attached to the user when the avalanche comes to rest, the pack has done its job. If everything else gets ripped away or destroyed, who cares. Why? Because if the danged thing weighs so much you need to pack an extra stash of muscle relaxers for your back spasms, it’ll probably get left at home — or on the rack where they’re sold.
Some of you have asked about my personal ski quiver for this winter. It’s shaping up something like this, in no particular order. Trab Volare, Dynafit Manaslu (latest version), Black Diamond Amperage or Element (women’s version), Black Diamond Justice, Volkl Nunataq, La Sportiva Hi5, K2 Wayback (in some length experiments). No doubt I’ll throw some mystery meat in there as well along with something different come spring mountaineering season, but that’s the gist of it.
The idea with our ski selection is for me to be a bit more aggressive with spreading my ski days out over more skis and do fairly extensive reviews of each. Oh the pain. (The quiver will also be farmed out to some of our more respected testers, end result being some super complete takes on these planks). Beyond that, I’ve got the Gecko skins here and ready for another round of testing, along Outdoor Research and Mountain Equipment clothing, and a bunch of other backcountry skiing gear review ideas as always.
It’s interesting how much attention our guest blog by Roland Fleck received. I honestly did not think that day’s post would become Socratic discussion of the ethics, style and definition of civil disobedience and elitism, but it did. So be it. But news is we have no doubt that uphill skiing at resorts will continue to grow exponentially, and we encourage various resorts to simply look at this as another way to serve their snowsport guests and do business.
How exactly resorts will produce revenue off uphilling is up to them. All I know is that the people are there, or will be. Incidentally, a few resorts in question that make uphilling difficult but perhaps could accommodate it: Eldora outside Boulder, Colorado, and of course Jackson. Praise goes to Aspen Skiing Company for embracing the sport while at the same time regulating it so everyone is safe.
Speaking of Aspen, don’t forget the 4-Skin! March 3, 2012 will be what’s possibly the coolest ski mountaineering race in North America. More here, register early. We’ll make our best effort to spectate and report this year, now that we know the splits from last year and can shift “spectation” locations during the day of the event.
Backcountry skiing Events to possibly attend these coming weeks: On the evening of Friday, October 21, 2011, the Summit Huts Association here in central Colorado will present the 10th Annual Backcountry Ball fundraiser featuring Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. The event will start at 5 p.m. with a reception, casual dinner and silent auction (with a lot of good backcountry candy!) for a group of 200 people. At 7 p.m. the doors open for a larger 700+ person event with a selection of films from the Telluride Mountain Film Festival. Over in Utah, be sure to attend Utah Avalanche Center pre-season fundraiser bash. Thursday, September 15, 2011, from 6-10pm at Black Diamond, 2084 East 3900 South, Salt Lake City, Utah. Info, tickets and all. More info.
Speaking of events such as those above, we regularly get emails from folks just starting backcountry skiing, wondering how to meet potential partners and mentors. I always respond by mentioning how terrific attending fundraisers and such can be for that type of networking. Be outgoing, humble and nice, chat people up, and you might get something going. Another good way to meet folks is to take community avalanche classes. Still another method is just go to an easier communal hut as a solo traveler.
I’ll close with a local issue that’s been quite interesting. We’ve got a boatload of legal federal Wilderness around here. It is wonderful. That said, the opinion of our WildSnow editorial board is we’ve got enough legal Wilderness in Colorado and we’d like to see the remainder of our public lands managed for multiple use, with emphasis on broad based outdoor recreation. One of our biggest reasons for this is you can build huts and bicycle on public land when it’s not big-W wilderness, and once it’s Wilderness, forget anything of that sort.
Our local environmental advocacy group, Wilderness Workshop (WW), is committed to making as much public land as possible into legal Wilderness. For the past few years, WW has had a Wilderness proposal in the works called “Hidden Gems,” which has been roundly opposed around here. This is a surprise as Wilderness proposals in the past have been so politically correct and widely favored that opposing them placed you in the shunned social class of “radical right wing weirdo land hater petroleum addict.” At any rate, a while back one of our local newspapers published the Wilderness Workshop funding numbers. 2008 — $403,632, 2009 — $925,923, 2010 — $680,635. Kudos to them for being able to sustain that kind of funding, but man, if you don’t agree with their mission that kind of money makes you take pause and wonder just how many bumper stickers it takes to compensate.
I’ll close with thanking all our sponsors and readers. The past few weeks we pushed to update our banner ads, negotiate sponsorship deals, and overall set things up so we can keep the same or better level of production here at WildSnow HQ. Thus, thanks sponsors for the support — and thanks to all you backcountry skiing WildSnow readers and commenters for making that happen!
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.