It is the talk of the backcountry. What is going to happen this season when ski areas are limited? We got a taster in March when droves of people flocked to more accessible venues.
March 2020 – blue skies, a stable snowpack, COVID-19, and thankfully a quiet TH – A fun time to be playing in the backcountry.
Parking at those TH’s was a nightmare, and resources stretched to breaking point. It was also a human petri-dish. The writing on the wall suggests that if the same thing happens in December, we will have a problem. The snowpack will not be so forgiving to those who do not know what they do not know.
Backcountry travel requires a skillset to mitigate all the risks involved; it does not develop overnight. It takes years of reflective practice to have the most fun and make the best decisions. That investment is one of the things that makes it such a great game.
February 2020 – first really warm day of the season and exposed rocks on a SW slope dish out a bigger slide than expected.
The good news is that many proactive organizations recognize this and play their part to educate and help the situation. Friends of CAIC is one of those groups. Looking at the Avalanche forecast before you leave the house is potentially one of the most useful things you can do. Especially for those less experienced and who heed the advice given.
Early winter snowpack. Looking for clues
Take the Pledge
So go on. Do it right right now. Head to www.forecastpledge.org and take the pledge. By committing to reading the forecast, you are taking positive action towards being a savvy backcountry traveler.
Then post on your social media and tag all the people with who you recreate. For that matter, tag anyone with who you want to play. Heck, tag as many people as possible.
We are all in this together. The big questions to ask yourself now are, what is your plan to accelerate your learning curve? What are you going to do to learn to mitigate the risks?
The beauty of the skintrack – how are you going to experience this while also mitigating the risks?
Wil was born in North Wales and steeped in its rich maritime, mountain and river folklore. In response to the request to “get a real job” he became first a teacher then professor of adventure education.
He then emigrated to where the sun shines for 300 days and snowfalls for 100 (Colorado). During more than 25 years as an outdoor educator, he worked Scottish winter seasons, taught canoeing, climbing, kayaking, and skiing throughout the States, Europe, and Australia. He also regenerated the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Outdoor Education program. His biggest adventure (by far) is fatherhood. It has also been the inspiration for his website www.wherethefruitis.com.
Things he likes to do include (middle) aging gracefully, and skiing (telemark) aggressively. He is happiest outdoors with a good view, good company, good weather/snow and the residue of self-powered adventure; sweat, a manic grin, and wild eyes.
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