Friday, November 2, 2007

Nothing Gets You Ready for Uphill like Uphill

Cool entry this morning on Lou Dawson’s blog, WildSnow from guest blogger and Aspen Alpine Guide Ron Rash on bootpacking Aspen’s Highlands Bowl early in the season.

...So starting around November 1st I’ll be meeting members of Highlands Ski Patrol at the base to take the lifts up and then walk out somewhere in to the Bowl to start packing. The day starts at 8 and goes till 4:30. We will walk side by side down sections of slope anywhere from 200-400 feet long. On the uptrack we hike single file. On steeper exposed sections we’ll use climbing harnesses and be rigged to a rope. Years ago the patrol tried sending their ragtag crowd of boot packers down one of the steeper slopes — with no ropes. After a few took slides for life, ropes were employed. That’s how steep Highland Bowl is.

It’s truly amazing in this day and age that simply walking the slopes is still the best and cheapest method for stabilizing steep terrain...

Read more from Ron Rash on Wild Snow here

It’s great exercise, sort of a preseason check-up on your fitness level, and great motivation to push harder as fall turns again to winter. But programs like this one at Aspen and Mad River Glen’s Fall Work Days (where skiers hike and help maintain tree skiing terrain) are also great reminders of just what lies underneath – a key part of mental preparation for the season. Better understanding of the hazards beneath winter’s wonder, and the base layers of early season snowpack helps develop smart choices skiing your favorite areas later in winter.

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