David Dellamora : Problems with trekking story
Professional member of the American Avalanche Association
American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education
I feel that you should be informed regarding a handful of inaccuracies contained within the article. To some people the errors may appear harmless, but within the avalanche and ski mountaineering community a number of misleading statements need to be dealt with.
Addressing your assertion claiming, “the route is challenging enough that he wanted a bluebird day to boost the safety level,” Pete Campbell is incorrect. “Bluebird,” or days consisting of generally few clouds and calm winds, actually lures winter backcountry travelers into a false sense of security, concerning snowpack stability and the avalanche danger scale. Countless avalanche accidents occur while blue skies prevail. Often, when high pressure reigns following a storm cycle, recreationalists fall victim to a bias termed “Illusory Correlation,” whereby a person assumes patterns are evident and that two variables are casually related when they are not.
Concerning your section titled “Deep in the Gore,” caution to readers must be heeded as well. Between Silverthorne, Frisco and Vail, the southern drainages of the Gore Range, which all reach the I-70 corridor, see regular ski touring traffic. Objectives such as Peak L, the north couloirs of Mount Guyselman and Atlas Basin are worthy ski tours that are considered “deep in the Gore Range in winter.”
Likewise, giving readers the impression that north-facing terrain are the “safest aspects” is grossly misleading. Colorado’s high country is the deadliest avalanche terrain in North America. Our snowpack is riddled with countless persistent weak layers that are generally more prevalent on northerly aspects given temperature gradients, local wind patterns and topography. Referring to Colorado’s snowpack as “safe” is inconsistent with fatality statistics.
Finally, regarding the Jackson Hole, Wyo. aspect of your article, there is no such thing as a “semi-professional guide.” Do you visit a “semi-professional” doctor when you or a family member is ill? Ski touring through complex terrain is a dynamic process involving a solid decision making framework backed by both targeted education and experience. When alluding to the general backcountry community a stark contrast exists between recreationalists and professionals.
Thank you for your time and effort in terms of recognizing the growing backcountry population,
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