Valdez Backcountry News
Most excellent sunrise ski of Schoolbus yesterday with good powder and good stability. But on to ski local ski news and see Don, Bernie and Hillary give their opinions on skiing.
State of Alaska will hold a hearing this week in Valdez on the Thompson Pass Special Use Area. As some may know, DNR is supposed to hold an annual community meeting inviting all stake owners a chance to voice safety concerns. In the 20 years since the designation, DNR has not held a single meeting, thus conflicts have been allowed to fester between user groups. Last year, Jordan Pond and I approached the Valdez State Parks Board (twice) to pass a resolution asking the state to comply with their own directives on land use in Thompson Pass and allow the public some input as to wether things are good or bad. For backcountry skiers, DNR has been a disappointment by letting Thompson Pass sink into a morass of ugly tourism.
If you attend the meeting, please make comments in support of backcountry ski zones, free of noisy sleds and heli-guides. Having been to meeting like this in the past, expect the usual peanut gallery of “no regulation” folks because it’s Alaska and safety comes last. I suggest filling out the survey form at the meeting, specifically addressing the issue of heliguides dropping down onto recreational ski touring groups or soloist. This practice has being frowned on by professional members of the American Avalanche Association and ski guides certified by the American Guides Association(AMGA). It certainly is a bad thing to the International Mountain Guides Association(IMGA). In Europe, a guide would be fined and his certification suspended if he showed such distain for the general public in the mountains.
I would put forth that the Airstrip on Thompson be the designated helicopter airport in the Mile 25-30 zones. The aviation hazards associated with helicopter landing in public parking areas is obvious. For instance, commercial heli’s should not be allowed to stage at Hairpin Corner, a heavily used public multi-use area. It’s dangerous and it not up to the pilot or guide to decide what’s best based on fuel consumption or profits.
Also Tailgate need to be a shorter duration events. It dominates Thompson Pass in a negative way for too long. Valdez deals with the collateral issues of bad management of a local resource. It’s becoming a junk show in paradise and that’s too bad because no matter your mode of skiing, many seem to have had enough of “Carbon-gate.”
Please attend and let your concerns be known : Valdez Civic Center, Tuesday, February 16, 7Pm
Kudo’s to Levitation 49 and the Ice Festival. One of the only weekends in Valdez where muscle sport enthusiasts outnumber the motor dependent folks. In light of global warming and all that means to declining snowpacks around the world, there is some hope that some sledders will drop the truck and trailer and get some screws.
Meanwhile I’m struggling to decide on which presidential candidate will get my vote come November……
or maybe one of these two…