Top Five Fridays - March 4, 2016 // Ski Industry News
#1: New Swiss Radar System Detects and Reacts to Avalanches Before They Happen:
Some cool news came out of Zermatt this week where avalanche control experts are taking a new step to prevent unforeseen avalanches on mountain passes. In a revolutionary move, a radar system is being used to detect avalanches before they happen. The concept is actually quite simple: a system of radar detecters, similar to those used in police vehicles, are constantly sending a signal at the mountain of Zermatt. If any movement is detected, the radar system sends a signal to the gates on the mountain passes below, which automatically close. If testing of the idea goes well, you can bet that we’ll be seeing the same sort of technology here in the United States where road closures due to avalanches in high mountain regions are also a reality. As you know, we also like to ask the question, “what are the bigger implications of this?” In this case, we’re hoping that successful testing will eventually lead to an expansion of this technology to a resort and side country level where avalanche detection could theoretically close side country gates to help prevent side country avalanches. Until then, we’ll keep an eye on this new concept as it develops.
#2: Rent a Mountain with Your Friends for Under $100/day:
Yup, you read that right- this is the stuff that dreams are made of. Not only that, but the more people you gather, the cheaper the deal becomes. This week, Plattekill Mountain in Upstate New York announced a program in which their entire mountain can be rented by a private group of any size for just $2,500 up to 250 people. So if you round up a total of 25 people, this entire resort could be yours for a day for less than the price of a day ticket at many large ski resorts. Or, you can go big. Get a group of 250 people together, and it still costs $2,500, or $10/person. Beyond 250 people, the costs stays at just $10/person. Now obviously our first thought was, “cool, but what is this place? A mole hill or something?” Turns out, no. Plattekill features 1,100 feet of vertical, and almost 175” of annual snow fall. But that’s not the best part. Of their 38 trails, 40% of them are rated as a black or double black diamond. Quick calculations tell us that 175” of snow + 15 steep trails + a private mountain = potential for the best powder day of your life. So round up your friends, claim a date, and keep those fingers crossed for a good old fashion Nor’Easter!
#3: Lindsey Vonn’s Continues to be Plagued by Injury:
Now for some unfortunate news: Lindsey Vonn is officially out for the rest of the season. After a patch of soft snow caused her to crash at a Super G race last weekend in Andorra, Lindsey initially believed she’d suffered just a hairline fracture in her left knee, Unfortunately after getting a second opinion, it turns out that she’s incurred not just one, but three fractures- none of which were hairline. The result, according to Vonn, is that her knee is, “not sufficiently stable to permit me to safely continue skiing.” While it’s undoubtedly the right move to preserve the longevity of her career, it is exceptionally unfortunate as Vonn was currently leading the World Cup standings in a tight race with Lara Gut of Switzerland. At the time of Vonn’s injury, she’d accumulated 1,235 points while Gut followed closely with 1,207. The heated race only added to Lindsey’s internal conflict as she called the choice, “one of the toughest decisions of my career.” We can only imagine. We wish Lindsey Vonn the best of luck and a speedy recovery.
#4: Three New Huts Approved for Whistler Backcountry:
Last but certainly not least is some welcome news for skiers near Whistler, British Columbia. This week, after a long approval process, the Spearhead Huts project was given the permit required to build a series of three backcountry huts in Garibaldi Provincial Park. Already a popular side country ski area, the Spearhead and Fitzsimmons ranges behind Whistler and Backcomb are home to a popular year round traverse which suits skiers and hikers alike. The problem though, is that the 40 km hike has been home to just one deteriorating hut- making it difficult to take advantage of the entirety of the range. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Spearhead Huts Committee and B.C. parks, the range will now be more accessible than ever thanks to the three huts which will provide overnight refuge. If you’re a regular reader of Chairlift Chat, then you already know we love this kind of thing. Anything that makes skiing more accessible, diverse, and remote should be fully supported. Don’t get us wrong- we love resort skiing too, but increasing and improving side country access only gives us more options as skiers, encourages more outdoor enthusiasts to participate in the sport, and ultimately leads to the growth and development of the industry and equipment as a whole. And that, is something that we can get behind 100%.