“Are you going to tell the world that we are secretly punting marmots out there ?”, a quote from a friend in a sarcastic email regarding future trip reports. I literally (LITERALLY) have not finished my coffee here, but, okay Ray – I’ll bite.
I recently received a few well intended emails from a few folks that regularly ride the backcountry like I do. The concern is publishing routes, name places, maps, and other beta for the world to see. While there is a certain trend of integrity and camaraderie among backcountry skiers and riders, perhaps that stewardship may be losing ground. Let’s face it; the main concern here is too many people finding those sacred places, and less to do with our genuine concerns of people’s, ‘safety’.
The objects on that side of the equation go something like this; (a) too many people going to these areas not equipped or educated (b) they do not have proper avalanche training (c) the resources and wildlife cannot handle more intrusion. And my favorite; (d) the Duuuuuuuude, this is our beach syndrome.
I can assure everyone from my favorite online communities that the trip reports I post are a mere fraction to the actual places I go, and I will not be referencing or publishing beta online that is less traveled or sensitive. Let’s get something straight people, the following areas are not backcountry (not by the NOLS definition, nor any definition);
- Berthoud Pass – sidecountry
- Vail Pass – sidecountry
- Loveland Pass – sidecountry
The majority of online communities and backcountry users will often cite the numerous sidecountry areas like those above. I tend to see quite a few in this genre on East Vail Pass, and the Winter Park side of the divide. Many of these users do not have avy gear – and even if they DID have a beacon they would not likely know how to use it anyway. At best they have been through an avy awareness course… Does anyone really think I want to cater resourceful beta to these types of people?
Thankfully the majority of the best areas are either in Wilderness, National Parks, or Conservation Areas that do not allow snowmobiles – so we really don’t have to worry about that. These places also take a consorted effort to get to, which filters down the potential crowd. I spend a great deal of time during the summer months hiking to areas and looking for new lines. You can bet your ass I am going to keep that information to a select few. Besides I don’t want this to end up like Pat’s ordeal on Wolf Creek Pass.
I lived in Pagosa Springs for nearly eight years, and while the good majority of people there were awesome, I also know firsthand what a bunch of asshats the locals can be. The area in question that got everyone worked up is analogous to Berthoud Pass. I mean come on people, really? The Radio Towers, Lobo Peak, and Wolf Creek’s north side? If these so called locals are bitching about those areas being ‘sacred’, they obviously do not have a clue where the real goods are… I will keep it that way.
In short people, those of us in the backcountry have a bit of responsibility to police our own. If I see people in certain areas and I get the inclination they are underprepared, uneducated, or over their head I will point them in the ‘right direction’… Or as Steele would say, “The proper response would be to welcome them to the area, gush about its beauty and fab skiing, and then promptly give them your “beta” by sending them 180 degrees away from the secret good stuff.”
Everyone be safe out there. Remember that a portion of your controlled safety rests in your hands as a backcountry user. That does not necessarily stop when you are off the mountain. You do not have to worry about me publishing beta about certain areas. If you want to know where they are at, you will just have to ride with me.