The White Blog 5

Life, death and really deep powder

An avalanche on the Ship's Prow (Hanging Valley Wall zone, Snowmass). "This was taken in the late 60s/early 70s before Elk Camp was built. I think someone threw a charge from the top and my dad was there to witness it on the far side. But it coulda just been a natural..." — Neal Beidleman.  Photo: Larry Beidleman

An avalanche on the Ship's Prow (Hanging Valley Wall zone, Snowmass). "This was taken in the late 60s/early 70s before Elk Camp was built. I think someone threw a charge from the top and my dad was there to witness it on the far side. But it coulda just been a natural..." — Neal Beidleman. Photo: Larry Beidleman

By John Clary Davies

Mountains are inherently dramatic. They are where skiers find life, sometimes death, and often, really deep powder. It makes sense that we hold them close. They are sacred. Skiing is not just a hobby, but our livelihood, religion, therapist and stoke-provider.

And so it should come as no surprise that when Snowbird wants to build a rollercoaster on Mount Superior; or when a 78-year-old local doctor spends seven hours in Teton County jail for skinning up the ski area to see his granddaughter’s ski race and refusing to stop; or when lawmakers want to fine skiers $1,000 dollars for going out of bounds; or when helicopter-riding clients ski the line you just spent a couple hours skinning toward; or Tom Chapman shuts down your favorite canyon; or a mountain’s beauty and our place in it is otherwise compromised or threatened—then skiers will be heard.

And so the debate from issues in the ski area to sidecountry and backcountry has been robust recently. And it’s good to see skiers still giving a damn.

Elsewhere around the web:
» In honor of President’s Weekend and the best damn Commander in Chief this nation has known, here’s the best YouTube video in America.

» A University of Vermont professor is developing a smart-phone app—the Stabilitron—that would aid in assessing avalanche risk. The tool will crunch relevant data and report the hazard on a scale of one to five.

» The Mount Washington Avalanche Center offers an interesting analysis on 2010-2011 revisions to the North American Avalanche Danger Scale, such as changes in the language to Moderate and Considerable definitions and the use of icons.

» Leif Borgeson, Arapahoe Basin’s snow safety director, died while hiking the ridge at the Aspen Highlands Bowl. Borgeson was nationally recognized by the avalanche-safety community for his work studying wet slabs. His memorial website is here.

» As I reported last time, tree wells can be deep and dangerous. Here’s more info on why you should ski with friends.

» If you live in Idaho’s panhandle, or plan on skiing there anytime soon, read this. The U.S. Forest Service found that historically avalanche danger has lurked more threateningly later in the season.

» If you aren’t familiar with Teton Gravity’s Snow Lab, bookmark it now. The page lists top resort snowfall reports for 24, 48 and 72 hour time periods, has a U.S. weather map and a number of avalanche safety videos.

» Read about Cornell physicists on the relation between earthquakes, avalanches and Rice Krispies here.

» Check out this video of a snowmobiler breaking off a huge cornice on Cornice Ridge in the Tony Grove area and this Ant Knolls slide analysis from the Utah Avalanche Center.

» Finally, there’s these jamokes in 2 Guys 1 Avalanche.

The White Blog Archive:
TWB 4
TWB 3
TWB 2
TWB 1

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  • pete

    Two fun videos- nice

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