Thursday, February 4, 2016

13 Tips for Skiing with Kids

13 Tips for Skiing with Kids

Top kids' instructors share wisdom on making skiing fun for everyone in the family.
Family Week on Tips with skiing for kids and keeping families happy on the hill13) For lessons, arrive early, preferably the day prior to get rentals if needed, ( or get Doorstep Skis to deliver them :-)), to get tickets in hand and hopefully avoid lines during peak season. It is great to let your children—especially if they are very young (3-6 years)—know where they are going and what will take place throughout the day, to reassure them.

12) Read on..

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Environmental Impact of Making Snow


Coutesy of —Mary Catherine O'Connor
Pointing to the sacredness of the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff, Arizona, a coalition of Native American tribes has been fighting the development and expansion of Arizona Snowbowl ski resort since 1979. It remains defiant, reports the New York Times, despite having suffered a key legal defeat this winter. A federal court ruled against the tribes in a nearly decade-old lawsuit that claims the ski resort's plans to use treated wastewater from Flagstaff's sewage system to make artificial snow for the resort would interfere with religious practices and mar the mountains. 
Wait. The resort will use sewage to make snow? Technically, yes. That's why the story has garnered lots of attention. But recycling treated wastewater for applications that do not require potable water is not nearly as icky, nor as uncommon, as it might sound. This type of water is commonly used for irrigating golf courses and soccer fields, for example.
While Arizona Snowbowl would be the first resort in the U.S. to use 100 percent treated wastewater to make snow, it's a common practice in Europe and in parts of Australia, says Hunter Sykes, an environmental sustainability consultant who closely tracks the outdoor recreation industry and produced a 2007 documentary about the environmental impacts of rampant ski resort development called Resorting to Madness. "Most people who work with wastewater don't see this an issue, because it's not going to make people sick and, as far as we know, it's not going to contaminate flora or fauna," he says.
Not everyone is quite so comfortable, though, with the idea of using treated wastewater for snowmaking. Among the groups that oppose it, on the grounds that the water may contain chemical inputs from pharmaceuticals and other potentially hazardous hard-to-trace sources, include the Center for Biological Diversity. Sykes agrees that there is still much we don't understand about the chemical agents that persist in treated wastewater and how they could impact the ecosystems into which they're released, but says if it was up to him, he would use the treated wastewater.
Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigns director for the Center for Biological Diversity points to a study that linked wastewater effluent released into a creek in Boulder, Colorado, with abnormal fish gender distributions. "There is an emerging and growing list of compounds [about which] we don't know the affects," he says, but we know that endocrine disruptors [in wastewater] will change fish sex ratios. This points to the need for additional research and more advanced water treatment."
But McKinnon and Sykes do agree on one thing: the real story here is the increase in snowmaking, industry wide, and the wider environmental impacts of making snow.
One can argue that for a ski resort in an arid landscape such as Arizona, reusing wastewater for snowmaking can be a much better alternative, environmentally speaking, than using increasingly scarce fresh water. In either case, other issues loom large. These include the energy required to pump the water, the quality of that water (even if it comes from "natural" sources), and the ways that artificial snowpacks change mountain landscapes.

In the Times story about Arizona Snowbowl, a forester with the U.S. Forest Service is quoted saying that climate change is making snowmaking increasingly necessary at ski resorts. That may be true, but the act of making snow where coal is used to generate the energy to make the snow is only exacerbating the situation.
"Burning coal to make snow is a self-destructive behavior for federal agencies and for outdoor recreation industry," says McKinnon.
The energy required to make snow will only increase if winters begin later and skew toward warmer or more erratic temperatures. "For a lot of [ski] areas, snowmaking is the biggest single expense, even before payroll," says Sykes.
Fortunately, many ski resorts are increasing the wind, solar and other types of renewable, clean-burning fuel they use for power generation. Plus, snowmaking equipment is increasingly energy efficient.

Ski resorts often make snow using nearby natural streams or lakes, but that doesn't mean the water is clean. Sykes points to how, in Colorado, water pulled for snowmaking from the Snake River is tainted with zinc, copper, lead and other metals that seep from old mining claims.
Even if water that is extracted for snowmaking is clean, the act of extracting it leads to other "externalities," he says. For one thing, pulling clean water upstream from sources of contamination, such as mining claims, removes the benefits of dilution that the water would have otherwise provided.
Reducing stream flow could have other consequences as well. "Another extraction issue is that you're removing sizable amounts of water from streams in the fall, which is a key time for aquatic life," says Sykes.

As snowpacks decrease in some parts of country, the demand for terrain parks is growing everywhere. To manufacture a sizable terrain park, ski resorts must manufacture snow. A lot of it.
That has led to more snowmaking, using more water and energy every year. In some areas, summer comes and goes but the massive piles of snow that were once halfpipes or tabletops remain. This prevents the natural cycle of melting and of plant growth and while these areas are small on each mountain, they add up in aggregate.
"You have a longer runoff period, so you have a lot of water running off smaller streams and they're carrying increased amounts of sediment. This is happening in parts of the mountain that have already been denuded, so topsoil is already depleted," says Sykes. "You're changing the profile of the mountain."

While sewage for snowmaking makes for good headlines, the real environmental issues seem to be hiding within the business of making snow.

Monday, January 18, 2016

7 Surprising Facts About Ski Injuries

  • The average skier death in CO is a thirty-seven years old experienced male skier wearing a helmet who loses control on an intermediate, groomed run and hits a tree.
  • The majority of deaths — 54 percent — occurred on blue, groomed runs, while 31 percent were on expert trails.
  • The increase in the number of people who wear helmets hasn’t resulted in fewer fatalities. Helmets are designed to protect riders at about 12 mph, while a skier or snowboarder who collides with a tree or another rider is typically going 25 to 40 mph.
  • More than 80 percent of ski deaths in Colorado are men.
  • Last season, 54 skiers and snowboarders died at ski areas within the U.S., which saw a total of 51 million ski visits, according to the National Ski Areas Association.
  • Researchers at Johns Hopkins recently estimated that about 600,000 people nationally are injured each year as a result of skiing and snowboarding.
  • Estimates are that about two injuries occur per 1,000 skier visits  — a decrease of 50 percent since the mid-1970s.
  • Friday, January 15, 2016

    DO NOT Use a Smart Phone App as an Avalanche Beacon!

    do notThe Canadian Avalanche Center has just released a press release denouncing the use of “smart phone apps” as avalanche beacon.  

    3 European smart phone apps are offering service as avalanche beacons now and they have been found to NOT WORK.  When you are running out of air underneath an avalanche, you won’t feel that great about having saved $300 bucks by using a smart phone app instead of a real, certified avalanche beacon.

    A smart phone app will never replace your avalanche beacon.  There are so many reasons that an app cannot replace an avalanche beacon:  they don’t work properly, battery life, robustness, reliability and interference.  Please get an proper avalanche beacon and learn how to use it.

    Please read the Canadian Avalanche Center’s press release:
    Canadian Avalanche Centre Warns Backcountry Users About New Smartphone Apps
    Apps marketed as transceivers give users false sense of protection
    Oct 24, 2013, Revelstoke, BC:   Smartphone avalanche search applications that are marketed as avalanche rescue systems are not recommended, says the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC).Three European-made apps are presenting themselves as economical alternatives to avalanche transceivers, the electronic device used by backcountry users to find buried companions in case of an avalanche.
    After close examination, the CAC has found a number of issues with the technology. Two of the main issues are compatibility and frequency range. All avalanche transceivers conform to an international standard of 457 kHz. Regardless of the brand, all transceivers can be used to search and find other transceivers. “Not only are these new apps incapable of connecting with other avalanche transceivers, they are also incompatible between themselves, so one type of app can’t find another,” explains CAC Executive Director Gilles Valade.

    The 457 kHz standard was chosen because it transmits very well through dense snow, is not deflected by objects such as trees and rocks, and is accurate. “None of the various communication  methods used by these apps come close to that standard,” adds Valade. “WiFi and Bluetooth signals are significantly weakened when passing through snow, and easily deflected by the solid objects we expect to see in avalanche debris. And the accuracy of a GPS signal is nowhere near the precision required for finding an avalanche victim. ”

    Other critical issues include battery life, robustness, reliability and interference. “These apps are being actively marketed as software that turns a smartphone into an avalanche transceiver but the CAC has serious concerns about their vulnerabilities,” says Valade. “We are warning all backcountry users to not use any of these apps in place of an avalanche transceiver.”

    The three apps are:
    - iSis Intelligent (Mountain) Rescue System
    - Sn√łg Avalanche Buddy:
    - SnoWhere:

    Monday, January 11, 2016

    23 Ways To Make A Chairlift Ride Incredibly Awkward

    shutterstock_103307735 Lift rides can be pretty uncomfortable. Here's some hints on how to make them even more so!

    Ski resort chairlift queues are usually buzzing with joy, laughter and unadulterated hatred. It’s one the strangest vibes on the mountain.

    The fact that everyone is slowly trying to edge in front of one another means that all civility is either false or non-existent.
    And the communal rage directed at anyone who does manage to skip the queue is only matched by the awkwardness felt when you end up on a lift with a silent stranger.

    Of course, more often than not the rider you’re seated with is nice enough, easy to chat to and turns out to be pretty cool.
    Other times, though, they just stay silent and refuse to talk. If you’re feeling like a bit of dick when that next happens, here are 23 things you can do or say to make that ride incredibly awkward…

    Read more ...

    Thursday, January 7, 2016

    Why do you get cramping and burning under my arches?

    6 days ago by in Gear Tagged: , ,

    Janine Winter from Profeet answers your ski boot questions. by  

    Question: Often when skiing I get a cramping and burning under the arches of my foot. Is it the boots?

    Answer: Multiple factors could contribute to a cramping and burning sensation under the arch and yes, one of those could be that you are in the wrong boot. Initially it is important to check the size to ensure the boot is not too big or too small.
    Typically, when the boot is too big you end up clawing your feet to try and secure yourself in the boot and gain control of the ski, which will often cause cramping. Likewise, if the boot is too small, it will cause crushing and a lack of circulation to the foot.
    Once size and shape of the boot have been eliminated, we would need to check the foot is stabilised in the boot. All ski boots come with a flat piece of foam in the bottom, which doesn’t offer support in the arch.
    It is possible to replace that insole with either an off-the-shelf trim-to-fit insole or, even better, a custom insole. This is built by taking a mould of the bottom of your foot in a neutral position. The insole supports the arch and distributes pressure evenly across the whole foot. A footbed alone will solve the majority of pressure points under the foot.
    Quite often we find people suffer from tightness of the plantar fascia (which is the connective tissue under the foot) and flexor hallucis longus tendon (which runs through the arch). If these soft tissues are too tight, they will almost certainly cramp in a ski boot. You can help relieve some of that tension using a pediroller or spiky ball to massage out the arch.
    There are also some good stretches you can do to lengthen those muscles which will certainly make skiing a more enjoyable experience for you. We may also need to raise the heel in the boot and adapt the footbed further for more severe cases.

    Sunday, January 3, 2016

    What Type of Rider Are You?

    People say you are what you eat, but what do they know? As any self-respecting snowboarder will tell you, it’s all about what you ride, duuuude. Style is everything. But which style? What board should you buy? What brands should you wear to be cool? These are the really important questions you’ll need to answer. To help you, Whitelines has compiled this handy quiz that’ll tell you what kind of rider – nay, what kind of person – you are. Read on and all will be revealed...