By Allen Best
Corduroy like concrete
WHITEFISH, Mont. – The conversation continues in Whitefish, where operators of the Big Mountain ski area have issued new regulations restricting uphillers to one designated corridor that can only be used during the daytime.
They said increasing numbers of uphillers were in danger of being hurt from winching operations as snow groomers worked on steep slopes. But they also said that uphillers, when skiing back down the slopes, created deep ruts in the fresh corduroy, because the snow had not yet set up properly.
Writing in the Whitefish Pilot, snow groomer Mike Paulson says it’s partly a matter of aesthetics. “What if you were a concrete worker, and had spent hours finishing your sidewalk or pad and came through with your dog and tracked it all up and let my dog crap all over your work. Would you be pleased?” he asks.
The uphillers can leave up to half-foot ruts when carving their turns. “This is a skiing/riding hazard the next morning after these 6-inch gouges have set up,” he said.
Cracking down on browsing bears
ASPEN, Colo. – Aspen has raised the bar on what will be required of trash cans this summer. The new requirement comes after another summer of bears grazing their way through Aspen, several of them invading homes.
The new law adopted by the city council requires wildlife-resistant garbage cans. In another change, the containers can be placed outside only between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Aspen residents complained a great deal about the cost of the wildlife-resistant cans, which cost between $100 and $300 each.
Another high-marking death
REVELSTOKE, B.C. – The snowmobiling sport of high-marking has, it can be safely assumed, left some other people feeling very low as the result of yet another fatality just west of Revelstoke.
A Revelstoke Times Review report said that the latest death occurred last Saturday when a group of 10 snowmobilers watched from the base of Eagle Mountain as two snowmobilers motored up a steep slope to see how far they could get before gravity forced them back down. The two triggered an avalanche that was rated as a class 4 (on a scale of 5) slide, one strong enough to destroy a large truck. The swath of snow covered one of the onlookers.
The victim, Kelly Reitenbach, 30, of Calgary, Alberta, was reported to have played in the Western Hockey League for seven years before he went to work in the oil industry.
This was the third fatality in just as many weeks near Revelstoke. The previous weekend two men had died when a somewhat smaller avalanche was casued by high-marking. But, in that case, several hundred people had been in the area an informal event called the Big Iron Shootout.
A year ago, 19 snowmobilers died in avalanches in Canada.
The Canadian Avalanche Centre has believes a safety message needs to be targeted to at-risk sledders through the snowmobile advertisements that entice them.
The International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association,however, says it will not contribute funding to such advertising messages.
Down by the river
DURANGO, Colo. – Durango city officials have been considering new restrictions governing recreational use of the Animals River, which gushes through the community on the edge of the San Juan Mountains. Use of the river, says the Durango Telegraph, has been exploding.
The proposed measures take aim at the currently lightly regulated private boaters. Alcohol would be banned on the river and at put-ins and take-outs and also put a curfew on boating after 10 p.m. The current limit is midnight. As well, the law would require that all private boaters wear flotation devices.
Durango Fire and Rescue has responded in recent years to a growing number of stranded river users, few of whom have been wearing flotation devices or proper footwear.
Newspaper defends coverage
KETCHUM, Idaho – The Idaho Mountain Express recently was jabbed by several angry letter-writers who accused the newspaper with improperly reporting a local suicide. The individual killed himself after a face-off with police in the Ketchum and Sun Valley area.
“I don’t know what demons forced him to take his own life, but I can state with certainty that he was a kind and gentle person and a good father,” wrote one writer, who added: “Have you no compassion? Have you no decency? Do you get some perverse joy out of inflicting additional pain on an already devastated family?”
The Express responded that it reports suicides only when the event has a public component. In this case, sheriff’s deputies said that the individual had shot his gun once in the direction of the officers and also discharged his firearm in their presence several other times.
“There are several reasons a newspaper would report on such an incident,” explained the Express. “The most important reason is for the newspaper to perform its function of serving the public interest by presenting the news. When law enforcement officers are engaged in an incident in which gunshots are fired, it is the responsibility of the news media to tell people the details of what happened. To not do so could easily result in the
Part of the story reported by the Express was the speculation of the sheriff that ht individual had intended to commit suicide by having police kill him.
Law targets idling cars
JACKSON, Wyo. – You think one person can’t change things? The Jackson Town Council appears ready to adopt a ban on truck and car idling of more than three minutes, similar to a law adopted a few months before in Ketchum, Idaho. And most of the dots seem extend to Willie Neal, a popular boy who died shortly after graduating form the local high school last year.
Neal, who won eight all-state trophies for his Nordic skiing, had championed the need to rid the town of unnecessarily idling. Organizing a bake sale, he took the proceeds to distribute more than 1,000 bumper stickers and construction “No Idling” signs that a dozen businesses have installed. He later was killed while rollerskiing in Maine.
But the cause has been taken up by several organizations, including the Yellowstone-Teton Clear Air Coalition, and at least two local doctors.