It feels like Spring is upon us at lower elevations, but on higher north facing slopes there’s still soft smooth stay-on-top powder skiing to be had. I’m not going to bust out the mountain bike just yet.
I’ve been drafting an opinion piece on the recent avalanche incident in Revelstoke for a few days now, but through writing realized that I couldn’t join the easy chorus of condemnation of stereotyped redneck sledders. We have some significant cultural differences, and are often competing for access to limited back-country terrain, but I must acknowledge that sledders and skiers share a passion for recreating in the mountains, are both motivated by engaging with challenge and risk, and definitely don’t need to be over-regulated by ignorant bureaucrats. As seems to happen after every major avalanche incident, there were a few days of absurd over-reaction, including calls for avalanche victims to pay for their own rescue (the value to society of popularizing active outdoor activities far outweighs occasional rescue expenses), and to close the back-country to recreation during periods of posted high avalanche hazard (that the CAA could decide when I was allowed to ski would drive me to madness). Since then here have at least been a few prominent rebuttals, notably Justin Trudeau who said “I think our right to go play outside in the wilderness is something that should not be the business of government” and that “there should be absolutely no limiting access to the back country for Canadians”. While a bit simplistic (sledders access to the mountains should be limited in some places for very sensible reasons), I appreciate the sentiments.