Part 4 of thousands. Coverage of the Horstman Glacier on Whistler in the summer of 2007 by correspondent Dan Kellar
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This is my final story of the summer season in Whistler up on the Horstman glacier. I have been spending considerable time trying to decide what to write about. Obviously I will be supplying great photos and videos of super exciting skiing, skiers, and a shitty jump, but I felt I could use this opportunity to also write about the future of skiing (sustainability) from an informed view as an environmental scientist. If you are fully apathetic to the challenges our sport faces in the immediate future and are only looking for skiing action, then by all means just hop through this and enjoy the media that I have been lucky enough to gather and present. If, however, you would like to enrich your day with some critical thought and a bit of a rant, I invite you to read all which lies below.
Before we get into it too much, please take the advice of Kurt Vonnegut and Whistler’s favourite Bus Driver:
Now we may truly begin.
One thing I would like to address is the understanding of sustainability, not only environmental sustainability but also that of social sustainability. I view sustainability as the sustained (ie continued) ability to undertake our sport. The timeline for this is not my life-time or that of my children but that of all future generations of humanity. Too many people have the misguided belief that sustainability only counts for their life-time and do not care about future generations of humans. In 30 years I want to be able to ski. In 60 years I want to be able to ski. In 500 years I want my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren to have the chance to enjoy the pleasures of skiing (if the world does remain). This means that not only must our physical environment allow for snow and breathable air, but also that our social environment will not have banned skiing because too many people are being hurt. I’m not fully against double and triple flips, but when the insurance companies have so much power to shut down our sport, we must make sure we are careful here. This was covered in depth in Summer of Snow part 4, so check it out for more info.
I also want Shark Bait, perhaps the most stoked skier I met all summer, to be able to ski until he is physically unable to do so. Here he is in the Camp of Champions Half-pipe and on their hip (check out the money booter in the background, that thing almost ruined me a few times):
I love to ski in the summer as the landings are real soft and many of my friends and nearly all the top skiers are concentrated in one geographic area. In recent times glaciers world wide are shrinking and I am growing concerned over the heavy use of salts on the Horstman glacier and their effects. Every day that camps are on the glacier they are applying hundreds of kilograms of salt to harden up the snow and there has been no academic study into the impacts on the glacier of this salt application. In times like these I would like to see the precautionary principle applied though I don’t know what we could use instead of salt. I know in Europe salt is not applied to the glaciers, nor is it used on the Farnham Glacier (located near Radium B.C.). One thing I know for certain the salt does is make the walls of the WSSC half-pipe bulletproof and perfect in shape for boosting:
Photo: Kevin J. Smith, Asheville, NC
Joe Schuster slid this rail with a killer 270-on-switch-up, 270-off. He is not afraid of what salt is dong to the glacier as he is doing this trick; as he says in his interview, when he skis is he is ‘not afraid of anything’. His trick-tip of a switch 900 lends credence to his claims:
Though nothing is funny about the prospect of a future without skiing, Alex James and Peter Olenick give perhaps the funniest commentary of the summer in their self-shot and self-written piece I like to call the Al and Pete Show. I like the call out on Cockboy at the end of the piece, and it will keep me from digging into him too much for telling Whistler’s favourite pizza maker and other people he was a coach up on the glacier, not a digger, Shame!!!!
It is up to consumers to demand that all industry involved in skiing become sustainable. This is a problem for companies as they are accountable first to their shareholders and second to the earth. It takes real leadership for a company to set their goals which are in tune with ecological limits. Companies like Avalaan and Orage who keep their production away from China when all their competitors are going there for cheap labour and lax environmental standards. Europe and North America have banned the use of chemicals in the workplace but not items made with these chemicals. China has no such standards so companies like the North Face, Burton, SMS, and others have moved production there so they may continue to use these products. The companies also benefit by using near slave labour in China rather than paying fair wages in the developed world. I have not seen the price of outwear drop indicating that profits are rising for the company with no advantages for consumers and a tax of environmental degradation (shipping from China on super tankers which come up through North America on new NAFTA Superhighways, and the spread of capitalist consumerism). I’m not sure where this skier’s duds came from but he is killing a nose-grab 540 over the public lane step-up:
I hope Dave Weale’s Handplant nose pick in the half-pipe will last forever; he also has a little something to say about Olympic half-pipe for skiers:
Ski manufacturing companies also have to become sustainable in their use and reuse of materials. In Europe, when you are finished with your car you return it to the company and they reclaim everything from it. This recycling/reclamation does add to the cost of the car, but this reflects not only the cost of the materials, but the cost to the environment. This is more of the true cost where industry does not pass on environmental destruction to the public unknowingly. The requirement to reclaim that which you have produced also leads to less toxic substances being used and therefore less environmental damage is caused by the construction activities. Since I could not afford to continue to buy skis after breaking them, I was looking for a ski sponsor. This search led me to a Swiss company called Movement and after reading about their use of certified sustainable forest products in their all wood cores (as opposed to weaker and wasteful foam and composite cores), I was hooked. This company has an upper limit to their growth based on the yield they are allowed to take from their forest. They are happy with the limit to their size as it ensures that the skis are of top quality (see the reviews for the Joystick and Kama Sutra). This is the difference between a pure capitalist whose only care is for growth and money and a company oriented towards sustainability. I challenge other ski manufacturers to meet Movement’s level of commitment to the environmental issues in the ski industry. I also challenge Movement to increase their environmental awareness and institute the industries first ski recycling program so less waste ends up in our landfills. To be fully honest I am sponsored by Movement and they are the only company which I would ski for as they are most in line with my corporate and environmental beliefs. Industry responds to the demands of consumers, together we can drive change. If you don’t start to drive change I will send Colby West and his spear after you:
In summer of snow part 2 I asked people to post pictures of the sexiest skis on the market, no one did, so I will now post my poll with the pictures I took of sexy skis and a poll for you to vote which is the sexiest ski on the market. If you vote for ‘other’ please post a picture of the ski which you think is the sexiest:
If you don’t believe me that one person can drive change let me introduce you to Tyler:
Tyler is a lifty on the Horstman Glacier and an obvious fan of Newschoolers.com. For years now the bottom t-bar on the Glacier (the one COC and Dave Murray use) has had long line issues. Of particular concern was the uselessness of the Coaches line where the wait was sometimes longer than the actual line-up. One day Tyler talked to his otherwise brilliant supervisor about moving the coach’s line from skiers right to skiers left. This simple maneuver made it possible to check for a coach’s pass (a requirement in the coach’s line) from the same spot as loading the tbar. Not only did this effectively stop poaching it also allowed the lifties to stand near each other and avoid the loneliness associated with hauling ass. If I were a supervisor at Whistler I would definitely start promoting Tyler as he is the kind of idea man that skiing needs.
Below are a few other idea people in the ski world.
Doug Bishop talks a bit of shop and a bit of smack in what was in fact the first tbar interview filmed:
Ingrid Backstrom gives us a visit:
Eric Hjorleifson has lots to say:
Max Hill is always entertaining:
Anthony Boronoski is Skiing equivalent of Salvadore Dali; just put it out there and if pisses you off, well, that’s art now isn't it:
I would not say the following videos show suffering due to high temps but they do show the work required to get the summer terrain parks up to spec. Now imagine if there was no glacier to ski on in the summer…
Doug Bishop shows us how to fix a tree-jib (or a quaterpipe):
The Momentum crew talks about their melt-out:
Of course, Ski resorts themselves are not exempt from becoming sustainable; it could be argued that they have the most to lose. Some resorts such as Whistler has gone to more efficient 4 stroke engines for their snowmobiles and switched to diesel or biodiesel for their groomers but their energy consumption, based on a dirty energy grid, is still unsustainable. The pollution they cause significantly increase greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere as well as carbon particulates and water vapour; promoting both global warming and global dimming at the same time. Why is solar and wind power not in use by more ski resorts worldwide? Each lift tower could be covered in solar cells powering the lift’s operation. Each hotel and lodge could have solar arrays on their roofs helping them become energy self-sufficient. Wind turbine fields on mountain tops could more than power entire resorts but these technologies are being ignored as they cost money to implement. Of course in the long run costs will be much less (as carbon energy increases in price through shortages and carbon taxes, neither of which are far off) but CEO’s and owners only see dollar signs right now; to hell with the future there are shareholders to answer to.
As the summer wore on and High North ended, I spent more time at Camp of Champions. In the next photo we can see HN digger Blake Nyman and Coach Anthony Boronoski also finishing off their summer at COC. I also managed to get a whole bunch of trick tips done and would like to thank the pros who helped me out with them:
Blake telling us how to do a corked 5
Blake being helpful with a handplant:
Steele Spence teaching a blindside switch-up:
Ingrid Backstrom showing us how she drops into steeps:
Colby West kills the nose grab and tells us how to do one with a switch 7:
Charles Berard tells us first how to lipslide and then shows a student how to railslide:
Finally we have Chris Turpin telling the newbies how to properly ski switch (he is one of the best coaches I have ever seen!):
One of the greatest advantages of the summer at Whistler is the ability to go water ramping. I did not take advantage this year but have in the past. It is such a good opportunity to try new tricks and fine tune the old ones without the chance of breaking yourself on landings, or knuckles, or flats, or decks….
I hope some of you will take the time to read my concerns as they apply to everyone. I realize that buying a computer, driving a car, and many other things in our society are environmentally damaging and unsustainable. We each have a responsibility to reduce our negative environmental impacts wherever we can. I focused this article on the ski industry for beyond all political, religious and ideological differences we may have, we all have one thing in common here on newschoolers.com and that is our love for skiing. I certainly want to protect that which I love and pressuring the ski industry to become sustainable will be taking one positive step in ensuring that not only will I be able to ski until the day I die but that all future generation will be able to experience the same love I have for skiing.
You may call me preachy but I would rather have that label pinned on my chest than be ignorant of the problems in the world, especially the problems that I am apart of creating.
I will leave you with my final collection of footage from the summer, and an invitation to discuss anything and everything that you have read or seen in this story in the NS forum, below on the bulletin board or on my personal webpage Being The Change. If you wish any of the pictures in full quality, contact boards on NS, he is my agent and he will arrange a transfer for a small fee.
Thanks for reading and viewing, keep winter cool.
Part 4 of thousands. Coverage of the Horstman Glacier on Whistler in the summer of 2007 by correspondent Dan Kellar
Part 3 of a series of new stories about the 2007 summer glacier in Whistler by correspondent Dan Kellar.
The second part in a series of articles about the 2007 summer glacier season at Whistler by correspondent Dan Kellar.
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 The snow increased, as did the number of times I lost my footing. I was really, really tired. Robin held up much better than I. After a bunch of pitches on rappel … Continue reading →