telemark skiingbackcountry skiingPacific NorthwestWashington and Oregonweather linksThe Yuki AwardsMt. Rainier and Mt. Adams
Turns All Year
www.turns-all-year.com
  Help | Search | Login | Register
Turns All Year Trip Reports
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
10/18/17, 07:52 AM

Snohomish County
Volunteer Search & Rescue Team
 
Trip Reports Sponsor
Marmot Mountain Works
Marmot Mountain Works
Turns All Year Trip Reports
(1) Viewing these pages constitutes your acceptance of the Terms of Use.
(2) Disclaimer: the accuracy of information here is unknown, use at your own risk.
(3) Trip Report monthly boards: only actual trip report starts a new thread.
(4) Keep it civil and constructive - that is the norm here.
 
FOAC Snow
Info Exchange


NWAC Avalanche
Forecast
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  Hot Air
| |-+  Random Tracks: posts that don't fit elsewhere
| | |-+  Uphill policy in Ski areas
:
« previous next »
Pages: [1] 2  All | Go Down Print
Author Topic: Uphill policy in Ski areas  (Read 30653 times)
Martin Volken
5Member
Offline

Posts: 9


Uphill policy in Ski areas
« on: 02/14/17, 12:30 PM »

Hi all;
Backcountry skiing is popular. Getting to our beloved backcountry via the established access points like mountain passes and ski areas is also very popular because, well, you can actually get there.
Sometimes this creates a bit of conflict because bc skiers want to recreate on public lands and feel that seemingly restrictive uphill policies from various ski areas infringe on their basic rights of roaming the land.
I would like to speak to that.
When a ski area obtains a "Special Use Permit" from any Forest Service District, they have to go through a pretty painful process of submitting an Operating Plan among other things. Owning a guiding service, I am familiar with these hurdles. In this Operating Plan you have to state most and foremost how you are going to keep the resource intact and keep the public safe. Once this document has been approved, the Forest Service entitles the concessionaire to enforce the agreed upon rules on their terms and this is important to remember. This may mean that in order to ensure public safety during avalanche control, there have to be temporary closures of certain areas.
This makes a lot of sense, since this is the most efficient way to assure access for the recreating public as quickly as possible when (for example) doing avalanche control. If now the Dept of L and I gets involved because a ski area cannot assure safety for the public while doing avalanche control, you are uncorking a potential chain of events that we do not want to mess with.
It could mean that suddenly ski areas don't get to use explosives and have to therefore close areas for a longer time to ensure safety.
Furthermore, the Federal Land Management agencies hate the prospect of getting sued and I have personally seen them make very non-nuances safety decisions in order to avoid that potential. It could mean that they could just categorically shut down all uphill travel period in a particular Special Use Permit Area.
I really don't think that the bc community wants to go there.
Personally, I would like to advocate for strong communication with the various ski areas and trying to partner in increasing safety for all. This means basically that we need to be compliant on their turf. Remember, it is their Special Use Permit. It is crucial to realize that there would no bc ski industry in Washington without the ski areas. No shop would survive without the important ski culture contribution that our local ski areas bring to the bigger ski industry picture.
One thing that I agree with is that we could use more access to back country ski terrain. Here is where I would love to focus our energy. Washington State offers literally thousands of square miles of skiable backcountry terrain and only a small portion of it is accessible with a reasonable effort. If we could convince the Forest Service to keep a few more access points open (speak plow a few more roads), we would be a lot further along.
I have flown over our beloved Cascade Range for many hours during the making of the Washington ski touring book and I can assure you that the possibilities are endless.
« Last Edit: 02/15/17, 02:02 PM by mosetick » Logged
sgertz
5Member
Offline

Posts: 29


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #1 on: 02/14/17, 12:56 PM »

Martin, thanks for this post. I think it's very important that we respect the safety measures put in place by the ski resorts, even if it means we have to go a little more out of our way to earn our turns.

Do you have a suggestion for who we can contact to lobby for more plowing?
Logged
Martin Volken
5Member
Offline

Posts: 9


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #2 on: 02/14/17, 01:10 PM »

Probably the best way to do it would be to contact Mike Schlafmann. He works out of the District office in Mount Lake Terrace office I believe. Before this happens we should maybe organize ourselves and come up with a common message.
Logged
kamtron
Member
Offline

Posts: 548


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #3 on: 02/14/17, 01:20 PM »

I think the community needs to organize itself more for this kind of initiative to succeed, in order to focus the message and eventually focus funds. There are some nice examples of this happening on the East Coast. The densely forested terrain there means ski touring is only really possible on gladed runs and a few natural avy paths in the White and Adirondack mountains. The initiatives I know of are:

http://granitebackcountryalliance.org/
http://www.rastavt.org/
the last has been incorporated into an older organization for nordic/backcountry skiers in VT:
http://catamounttrail.org/

These initiatives could be models for some of the advocacy groups skiers in the PNW need. For us, it would be less focused on trail building and more on road access during the winter months.

I'd love to get involved in something like this.
Logged
z-bo
5Member
Offline

Posts: 42


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #4 on: 02/14/17, 02:33 PM »

I'd like to see a group effort put forth to get a spot or 2 opened up.   I think getting people to agree on one or two places would be the biggest hurdle at this point.  What are the places you would suggest Martin?
Logged
~Link~
Member
Offline

Posts: 286


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #5 on: 02/14/17, 04:15 PM »

If we could convince the Forest Service to keep a few more access points open (speak plow a few more roads), we would be a lot further along.
I have flown over our beloved Cascade Range for many hours during the making of the Washington ski touring book and I can assure you that the possibilities are endless.

Yes, indeed.  We do need a collective effort of conscientious backcountry skiers to organize for road access/plowing.  It's been done before with other mountain sports around here....  With the popularity of bc skiing in one of the more wealthy areas of the world, the possibility for perhaps even a co-op to form to assist the state in accomplishing such a goal seems feasible. Growth is inevitable, we are seeing it everywhere including the hills, and this state is overly tight about recreational expansion/huts/etc.  I lean rather on the side of conservationist for sure, but there is room to open.   
Logged
Stügie
5Member
Offline

Posts: 14


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #6 on: 02/14/17, 11:32 PM »

Yes, indeed.  We do need a collective effort of conscientious backcountry skiers to organize for road access/plowing.  It's been done before with other mountain sports around here....  With the popularity of bc skiing in one of the more wealthy areas of the world, the possibility for perhaps even a co-op to form to assist the state in accomplishing such a goal seems feasible. Growth is inevitable, we are seeing it everywhere including the hills, and this state is overly tight about recreational expansion/huts/etc.  I lean rather on the side of conservationist for sure, but there is room to open.   

Absolutely.  Well stated and couldn't agree more.  However, in addition to the original post, and in having the honor to spend years touring with some truly awesome people and backcountry skiers/splitboarders from this community, I would add this: There are also countless touring options from a ski resort's base that allow a group to avoid a ski area's patrolling, essentially mitigating the "uphill traffic" scenario altogether.  It would help if as a collective, we were to put emphasis on this aspect.
Logged

"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambitions to achieve; they are cathedrals, where I go to practice my religion."  -Anatoli Boukreev
frankfrank
5Member
Offline

Posts: 44


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #7 on: 02/15/17, 12:12 AM »

Here is an old thread discussing where we might like to see improved winter access.
Logged
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #8 on: 02/15/17, 08:24 AM »

Hi all;
Backcountry skiing is popular. Getting to our beloved backcountry via the established access points like mountain passes and ski areas is also very popular because, well, you can actually get there.
Sometimes this creates a bit of conflict because bc skiers want to recreate on public lands and feel that seemingly restrictive uphill policies from various ski areas infringe on their basic rights of roaming the land.
I would like to speak to that.
When a ski area obtains a "Special Use Permit" from any Forest Service District, they have to go through a pretty painful process of submitting an Operating Plan among other things. Owning a guiding service, I am familiar with these hurdles. In this Operating Plan you have to state most and foremost how you are going to keep the resource intact and keep the public safe. Once this document has been approved, the Forest Service entitles the concessionaire to enforce the agreed upon rules on their terms and this is important to remember. This may mean that in order to ensure public safety during avalanche control, there have to be temporary closures of certain areas.
This makes a lot of sense, since this is the most efficient way to assure access for the recreating public as quickly as possible when (for example) doing avalanche control. If now the Dept of L and I gets involved because a ski area cannot assure safety for the public while doing avalanche control, you are uncorking a potential chain of events that we do not want to mess with.
It could mean that suddenly ski areas don't get to use explosives and have to therefore close areas for a longer time to ensure safety.
Furthermore, the Federal Land Management agencies hate the prospect of getting sued and I have personally seen them make very non-nuances safety decisions in order to avoid that potential. It could mean that they could just categorically shut down all uphill travel period in a particular Special Use Permit Area.
I really don't think that the bc community wants to go there.
Personally, I would like to advocate for strong communication with the various ski areas and trying to partner in increasing safety for all. This means basically that we need to be compliant on their turf. Remember, it is their Special Use Permit. It is crucial to realize that there would no bc ski industry in Washington without the ski areas. No shop would survive without the important ski culture contribution that our local ski areas bring to the bigger ski industry picture.
One thing that I agree with is that we could use more access to back country ski terrain. Here is where I would love to focus our energy. Washington State offers literally thousands of square miles of skiable backcountry terrain and only a small portion of it is accessible with a reasonable effort. If we could convince the Forest Service to keep a few more access points open (speak plow a few more roads), we would be a lot further along.
I have flown over our beloved Cascade Range for many hours during the making of the Washington ski touring book and I can assure you that the possibilities are endless.
How does your company ensure the public safety in the bc areas in which you have a special use permit to operate. Do you do avy control work,ie ski cut the avy start zones while out with clients or prior to a client tour?

I'm guessing that you are experienced enough to ensure that the path is clear of other users, and that your skin tracks are located in as safe a location as possible, but what action would you take if one of your guides ski cut an avalanche down on another touring group?


Also, do you report any avalanche near miss incidents on your business web pages so that potential clients can make informed decisions on whether or not they want to hire your
company's services?

Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
haggis
Member
Offline

Posts: 382


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #9 on: 02/15/17, 08:43 AM »

Freeski, you are trolling.
Logged
WoodyD
5Member
Offline

Posts: 66


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #10 on: 02/15/17, 10:52 AM »

From realistic to unrealistic:

Plow to Sunrise.

Plow Mountaineers Creek road to Stuart Lake TH.

Plow Icicle Creek Rd to the end.

Plow Chinook Pass.

Plow Washington Pass.

Plow Smith Brook Rd over to Lake Wenatchee. Plow Spur up to Little Wenatchee River TH. 

Plow Chiwawa River Road to Trinity/Spider Meadow road spur.

How about a euro style tram to 6000' anywhere in those areas.... that would really help the BC access.
Logged
theCougAbides
5Member
Offline

Posts: 5


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #11 on: 02/15/17, 11:21 AM »

It wouldn't just be a matter of plowing more roads. The roads would either have to be totally out of potential avalanche paths, or would have to be controlled for avalanches. It would be killer to have any of the roads that WoodyD listed be open in the winter, but it's unlikely due to avy danger (at least of the roads he listed that I know). More realistic would be the White River Campground or Mowich Lake roads. The NPS could make their money back from visitors to the park and camping permits, and decrease the numbers at Paradise.

I hear things like "don't listen to ski patrol, you have just as much right to be there as they do" or "it's public land, they can't kick you off" all too often. Educating to eliminate or decrease that attitude might be more realistic than getting more access in avalanche prone areas. Even without opening more roads, there are plenty of places that we can currently go. Some of them are popular enough that you might cross a few ski tracks on the way down.

Logged
CookieMonster
Member
Offline

Posts: 523


WWW
Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #12 on: 02/15/17, 02:06 PM »

How does your company ensure the public safety in the bc areas in which you have a special use permit to operate. Do you do avy control work,ie ski cut the avy start zones while out with clients or prior to a client tour?

I'm guessing that you are experienced enough to ensure that the path is clear of other users, and that your skin tracks are located in as safe a location as possible, but what action would you take if one of your guides ski cut an avalanche down on another touring group?


Also, do you report any avalanche near miss incidents on your business web pages so that potential clients can make informed decisions on whether or not they want to hire your
company's services?



I know you have an axe to grind with guided skiing operations, but perhaps you could put it away while the original questions are addressed.
Logged

CascadeClimber
Member
Offline

Posts: 135


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #13 on: 02/15/17, 02:47 PM »

Going back 20 years now, the issue at Snoqualmie Pass is that language of the Use Permit that allows the ski area to exclude any person for any reason from all areas covered by the permit. This language is far too broad and has been the subject of multiple attempts to implement onerous rules that required Access Fund attorneys (I think it was Matt Stanley) to jump in at least once (the year they said you couldn't park in any of the Alpental lots without a lift pass, which meant the only allowed parking was south of I-90...not functional or safe for accessing Chair Peak, Snoqaulmie Mountain, the Tooth, Bryant, etc).

They've also repeatedly tried to bar uphill travel on the west side of the creek going up to Source Lake.

The parking lots and BC access are on public land and I, personally, don't think the Use Permit should allow the operator such leeway in barring access.

As far as skinning up in-bounds downhill runs at ski areas go, it's not something I find fun or important or safe, so I don't do.
Logged

Not all who wander are lost.
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #14 on: 02/15/17, 02:59 PM »

I know you have an axe to grind with guided skiing operations, but perhaps you could put it away while the original questions are addressed.
I think these are valid questions concerning everyone's safety while on public land? The sharpness of my victim advocacy is irrelevant.

       
Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
Roy McMurtrey
1Member
Offline

Posts: 2


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #15 on: 02/15/17, 03:42 PM »

       I have been  doing Silver Peak regularly and have no trouble skinning up the groomed area: my thing is a free lift pass for seniors ( I am 88 y .o. )  Grin   But I do not advocate pursuing that pass.  Stay young.
Logged
~Link~
Member
Offline

Posts: 286


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #16 on: 02/15/17, 04:15 PM »

From realistic to unrealistic:

Plow to Sunrise.


Yes.
Logged
aaron_wright
Member
Offline

Posts: 573


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #17 on: 02/15/17, 05:41 PM »

From realistic to unrealistic:

Plow to Sunrise.

Plow Mountaineers Creek road to Stuart Lake TH.

Plow Icicle Creek Rd to the end.

Plow Chinook Pass.

Plow Washington Pass.

Plow Smith Brook Rd over to Lake Wenatchee. Plow Spur up to Little Wenatchee River TH. 

Plow Chiwawa River Road to Trinity/Spider Meadow road spur.

How about a euro style tram to 6000' anywhere in those areas.... that would really help the BC access.
On Monday I was talking with one of the climbing rangers from MRNP about plowing the road to Sunrise or having it open to sleds. He said it probably wouldn't be unreasonable to have the road open to sleds but it's not getting plowed. They don't have the resources and they're are two very large avalanche paths to cross. Likewise most of the other roads you're talking about would require so much money to keep clear and safe it wouldn't be tenable. Where is the money going to come from?
Logged
Stügie
5Member
Offline

Posts: 14


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #18 on: 02/15/17, 06:41 PM »

More realistic would be the White River Campground

Even then, you're crossing "Big Bertha" - a PHENOMENAL ski and simultaneously a massively active avy path.  The problem that will arise next if more plowing IS actually entertained, is how to control the areas in question and best mitigate potential for injury/death.  As soon as the access exists, it will also welcome those who are unprepared for backcountry travel and inexperienced with the conditions they may face.

I hear things like "don't listen to ski patrol, you have just as much right to be there as they do" or "it's public land, they can't kick you off" all too often. Educating to eliminate or decrease that attitude might be more realistic than getting more access in avalanche prone areas. Even without opening more roads, there are plenty of places that we can currently go. Some of them are popular enough that you might cross a few ski tracks on the way down.

Total agreement.  I personally, feel fortunate to have had some great mentors and partners with a good understanding of etiquette, technique a stewardship which is what I can only hope to continually convey.  Unfortunately, this "toxic" attitude as stated above, infiltrates the purity of a sport (lifestyle?) that so many people are joining.  I think some of the responsibility in addressing this lies in the recreationalists who choose to involve themselves in this community, but ALSO in the guides, mentors, friends and partners of those who are becoming involved.  We can lecture or offer classes or post on websites, but hands-on education is going to have the most impact.  All backcountry users, from beginners to guides, need to take some ownership in this.
Logged

"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambitions to achieve; they are cathedrals, where I go to practice my religion."  -Anatoli Boukreev
kolockum
5Member
Offline

Posts: 22


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #19 on: 02/15/17, 10:43 PM »

From realistic to unrealistic:

Plow to Sunrise.

Plow Mountaineers Creek road to Stuart Lake TH.

Plow Icicle Creek Rd to the end.

Plow Chinook Pass.

Plow Washington Pass.

Plow Smith Brook Rd over to Lake Wenatchee. Plow Spur up to Little Wenatchee River TH. 

Plow Chiwawa River Road to Trinity/Spider Meadow road spur.

How about a euro style tram to 6000' anywhere in those areas.... that would really help the BC access.

I would add the road to Esmeralda Basin but stop around Bean Creek

Snow removal takes a lot more work than most people realize especially when parking areas are involved. I used to work extensively with snow removal for ski areas and was able to see how Rainier and Olympic NP crews work. And quite frankly am amazed how well Rainier does with so little equipment. Most road operations are more or less plow then blow. Push the snow to the side of the road then blow it over the bank. On roads that are not plowed as often then a grader is needed to pull up the snow that gets super compacted and too hard for plows to scrape.

Some of the issues that the snow removal guys from DOT, Park Service, Forest Service will bring up will probably be:
- Overnight parking. A frustrating point for a lot of planners. On some of the smaller turn-arounds and pull outs a single parked car can keep plows from clearing 2-5 spaces and in some cases plowing the whole turn around as the truck has to do a 3 point turn around. Also cars left for several days in heavy snow fall may create piles that are too big for plows and will have to be blown by snowblower. (Ski resorts use front end loaders because they have significantly more power and don't run into this problem). Also wood (firewood is very a common issue around parking areas) will break the sheer pins in snow blowers and can do serious damage.
- Staffing Issues. Self explanatory.
- Equipment shortages. Snow blowers are notoriously unreliable. Even the new ones. I can't even begin to explain how hard snow is on equipment; plows, front loaders, graders, blowers. Most operators agree that the snow tears up their machines faster than anything they do in the summer.
-Avalanche danger to the road and operators.

All that said I see a lot of places in the Cascades where a little extra work, just one or two extra passes by plows, would create a fair amount of additional parking. I believe that it would easiest to identify areas where road side parking can be easily plowed out and maintained and focusing on those spots first. Dare I say start working with the snowmobile clubs because I hear similar rumbling from my sled-neck friends.
Logged

Live Hard and Die Old
WoodyD
5Member
Offline

Posts: 66


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #20 on: 02/16/17, 08:54 AM »

Where is the money going to come from?

And that's why it's all a pipe dream.

I think in someways a tram or gondola type thing to treeline off an already plowed highway is more realistic than more plowed BC skiing turnouts.
Logged
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #21 on: 02/16/17, 09:14 AM »

Quote- ''Dare I say start working with the snowmobile clubs because I hear similar rumbling from my sled-neck friends.''
unquote] i can see why you would say 'dare i say' on this site given the prejustice and bias that permiates TAY toward, as you call them 'sled-neck', which could be a consided a slur word onto itself.

Well, i'm a sled-neck and many of us build your houses, build offices, plow your roads, log, mine (where do you think copper and wood comes from), keep your ski areas working and do much of the physical labor that is required to sustain our communities, and we love what we do and why we do it.

We take that overabundance of energy that was gifted to us and we rip on our days off.

The only way to fight prejustice is through education.

Hey op, have you considered  answering my previous questions? I truely am interested in a safe bc, as i'm sure you are, and your perpective would be educational.

Should we close up hill traffic in the BC ski areas also, while commercial users do avy control work for their clients? 
« Last Edit: 02/16/17, 09:26 AM by freeski » Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
swaterfall
5Member
Offline

Posts: 88


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #22 on: 02/16/17, 09:42 AM »

Oooh I love Slednecks! Volume 19 is available now!

http://www.slednecks.com/
Logged
andyski
Member
Offline

Posts: 454


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #23 on: 02/16/17, 09:44 AM »

There are also countless touring options from a ski resort's base that allow a group to avoid a ski area's patrolling, essentially mitigating the "uphill traffic" scenario altogether.  It would help if as a collective, we were to put emphasis on this aspect.

I couldn't agree more with this. I see a "want" a whole lot more than a "need" when it comes to winter access so long as the ski areas don't mess with parking. If there were a couple places where a minimal amount of plowing would make for a meaningful difference, great.

Otherwise, I do agree that you're going to have to come up with a funding mechanism, and that might very well require collaboration with other users...like snowmobilers.

Aside: Let's all just ignore Freeski please. It's for the best.
Logged
freeski
Member
Offline

Posts: 529


Re: Uphill policy in Ski areas
« Reply #24 on: 02/16/17, 10:58 AM »

Quote-
''Aside: Let's all just ignore Freeski please. It's for the best.''
unquote
You need to follow your own advice, press the ignor button right now. Quick, you don't want to read any opinions that are contrary to your well formed world view.

I just read a book by Mike Massimino, a space walker astronaut, you know Nasa, a real professional organization that is helping to study our universe.

When  any type of accident happens in that PROFESSIONAL organization, it's not sweep under the carpet. It is investigated and lessons are learned and preventative messures are designed so that the accident hopefully doesn't happen again.

Mike says that all accidents are preventable and i agree.

imo, it's not worth worshipping things like helicoptors and guides who exist to make money off of your powder lust and are killing themselves and their clients in ever increasing numbers.

In other words, these are commercial organizations operating on public lands in a non transparent commercial way.

How many times have you heard, ''but it's our first fatality''. Yea, but how many near miss accidents have you had where you just got luckey?

A commercial business won't address these issues in a transparent way.

Wavers will be signed and no one, except the mountains will be held accountable when a client or working clueless guide is killed.

But hey, it's the uphill traffic, who have the right to use public land that's the problem, right?

''When business becomes more important than facts, that's where i draw the line'' Reinhold Messner

''Keep your self serving money interests out of my church, your truth is however welcome'' me 

''it's not the powder, it's OUR shared experience that's important'' A take on Reinhold's wisdom
« Last Edit: 02/16/17, 11:13 AM by freeski » Logged

"I'm not making love to anyones wishes, only for that light I see." Cat Stevens
Pages: [1] 2  All | Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Login with username, password and session length

Thank you to our sponsors!
click to visit our sponsor: Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
click to visit our sponsor: Marmot Mountain Works
Marmot Mountain Works
click to visit our sponsor: Second Ascent
Second Ascent
click to visit our sponsor: American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
click to visit our sponsor: Pro Guiding Service
Pro Guiding Service
Contact turns-all-year.com

Turns All Year Trip Reports ©2001-2010 Turns All Year LLC. All Rights Reserved

The opinions expressed in posts are those of the poster and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Trip Reports administrators or Turns All Year LLC


Turns All Year Trip Reports | Powered by SMF 1.0.6.
© 2001-2005, Lewis Media. All Rights Reserved.