If your sport relying on certain conditions, might as well become an expert in predicting them…
Reading the snow is both an art and a science, but as the promise of deep powder draws more backcountry skiers to Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, avalanche forecaster Drew Hardesty is sharing more than a snow report. He’s speaking out, sharing a message that will change the way you think about skiing in the backcountry this winter.
Black Diamond is accompanying their webisodes with companion writes ups like the one bellow….
DREW HARDESTY SLIDES HIS SKIS from the back of his pickup, the dome light above illuminating his face, giving his bearded visage a wizened look. He is quick, efficient. It is clear from his movements that this is a routine so often repeated it has become habit. Skis, poles, pack. Check. Drew glances around the parking lot, already filling with cars in the predawn light, and walks to the trailhead, stepping into his bindings. Click click.
The soft, rhythmic swoosh of skis is interrupted every now and then as Drew pauses to inspect the snow. His melodic voice is low as he muses on what he sees, its quiet tones matching the mood of the morning. He gestures up the mountain, contemplating what he expects to find higher. And then he’s off again. Watching Drew move uphill, it would be easy to imagine that he is moving across flat ground, his steps brisk and precise. As he reaches the top of Toledo Bowl, before the sun has fully risen, he points across to Mt. Superior. A heli group has landed on top, and a single skier is arcing down the pristine run.
Despite the silence of the morning, Drew is not alone in the mountains. No one is, and the presence of this skier makes that reality strikingly clear. Drew knows, maybe better than anyone, that we all accept a shared risk in the backcountry, whether consciously or unconsciously. As the skier on Superior curves downward, Drew cannot know if he has followed the snowpack this season, if he’s aware of other skiers above and below him or even if he has his beacon turned on.
As Drew watches the skier’s run, the deep smile lines along his blue eyes crinkle, and he laughs, because at heart, he is in love with the mountains and with skiing. It is Drew’s love for these mountains that his driven him to develop and champion a code of ethics for backcountry users. As, each year, the number of backcountry users rapidly expands, the level of risk increases. And Drew knows that we sit at the edge of a precipice. For him, establishing a clear set of expectations is imperative to the future of the backcountry. And as such, his livelihood, and his life, depend on it.