MONTANA AVALANCHE CATCHES THREE, INJURES ONE
The snow doesn’t know it’s only October. Three skiers were caught and partially buried when they were skinning up No Name Bowl in the northern Bridger Range in Montana yesterday. This early in the season, most skiable snow is going to be found in pockets where it’s been swept by the wind, and such loaded deposition zones are commonly unstable. The three were climbing a south-facing gully when they heard a whoomph, watched cracks appear, and were swept away. With such a shallow snowpack, they were pummeled over rocks and then buried up to their chests and armpits. Only one was injured. Can you say “lucky”? Be careful out there, powder heads — the snow is thin and hazards abound. Via Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.
FOREST SERVICE OKAYS A-BASIN EXPANSION
The U.S. Forest Service announced the acceptance of Arapahoe Basin ski area’s 2012 master plan upgrades, including lift-served skiing in the Beavers backcountry area. The areas of expansion include proposed intermediate and expert terrain and side- and backcountry that would get a whole lot safer with more rigorous avalanche controls along with lift service. The approval of the proposal still requires an environmental impact statement, part of which will include the effects of a proposed zip-line system that would draw more summer tourism. A-Basin also wants to double its snowmaking capacity, because even one of the highest resorts in the nation was affected by a crappy snow year in 2011-12 and doesn’t want to see it repeated. Via Summit Daily.
WHEN ALPINISTS SHOULD TAKE DRUGS — AND WHEN THEY SHOULDN’T
It’s possible that climbers are putting a little too much faith in technology — not ropes and ice axes, but Diamox, a drug that was originally developed to treat glaucoma, epilepsy, hypertension, and more. Diamox has a useful side-effect: It enables climbers to cope better with the effects of high altitude. The problem is that many climbers think it’s a shortcut to actually acclimatizing — going to a higher altitude and staying there for a while before continuing for a summit bid. Diomox causes frequent urination, which can lead to dehydration, which is a contributing factor to altitude sickness. It can also make fingers and toes tingle…it can feel like numbness, even when it’s not. Bottom line: Diamox isn’t a cure for being ill-prepared for relatively low elevation climbs (14ers, say), and it can’t cure acute mountain sickness. It’s a tool, and climbers imperil themselves when they make too much of any tool in their quiver. Via American Alpine Institute.
BLOGOSPHERE HAD LANCE PEGGED WELL BEFORE THE MEDIA CAUGHT ON
Even when it blew up in the early 2000, pro cycling wasn’t the NFL or the NBA. Its community is relatively small, so small that, as in surfing or climbing or skiing, the “stars” can be met personally. Which is why even as Lance Armstrong constructed a firewall against other pros talking, there were always leaks, which came out time and again in the blogosphere because amateur cyclists were just too aware of the impossibility of what Lance and most pro cyclists were doing. The numbers didn’t add up, and so, as the New York Times examines here, websites like NY Velocity that were mostly all about the local racing scene, began to cover what every amateur cyclist wondered about: Could Lance be clean? It was in fact NY Velocity that published a groundbreaking analysis of Lance’s EPO tests from 1999 (published in 2009). Meanwhile professional reporters didn’t chase that ugly truth because they feared losing access to Lance. Via New York Times.