First off, I will say skiing has been and will continue to be catered and advertised to upper middle class. Having the free time and cash flow to be able to ski is a luxury and privilege that most working class people are not able to attain. I got into the backcountry 6 years ago, tired of only skiing 1-3 lines of untracked snow on a weekend powder day. Not having boots with tech inserts and unable to afford a second pair, I went to Craigslist and picked up an old pair of armadas with marker frame bindings for 300 dollars. Skins came a few days later with the surprise at how expensive they were.
My first tour was on Mt Rainier, I found a skin track leading away from the paradise parking lot and followed it with a more experienced friend. In Seattle and Bellevue, a nexus of tech companies and outdoor enthusiasts occurs. Many of these young people spend their disposable incomes on gear which leads to many folks out in the BC having setups worth more than my car.
These are the types that I met that first day touring. Chatting with people around me lead to some interesting interactions.
“I’ve never seen some one with frame bindings keep up with me before”
“I see you brought the whole kitchen sink with you”
“wow... those look heavy”
Hearing this comments and remarks really pissed me off. Maybe it was the fact that they many weren’t locals. Being a fourth generation Seattleite has lead me to dislike the newcomers in town, after all they are making it unaffordable to live here. The mostly likely symptom of this newfound anger for the arcteryx clad amazonians was the toxicity of the comments and the toxicity of this culture there were propagating. A culture that held the cost and weight and branding of what your were using higher than the hedonism that had lead me to love sliding down snow in the first place. I want more people to enjoy snow and winter in the same way I do.
I am glad when it is 43 degrees and raining in Seattle because I know the mountains are getting pounded. I love seeing others be just as stoked on things as I am, especially when I have some impact. I taught skiing all of high school, often in the rain and dreary that snoqualmie pass is know for. I worked for one of the cheaper ski schools, a full season of all day Saturday lessons cost 550 dollars, a cheaper cost than one full day private lesson at Whistler. One reason I kept coming back other than the cheap pass was that I was helping families of often lower income enjoy skiing.
Extrapolating out to my time in backcountry follows parallel thought. I would love for more people to safely explore the mountains that our world has to offer. These wealthy young tourers were crushing that reality. I meet plenty of lovely people that day on Rainer, many seemed excited that I was getting into the sport that they too had come to love. There are so many great people in the backcountry. However, it only takes one bad experience for people to be turned away from this sport. The last thing I want for those getting into bc skiing and spending a good chunk of money on gear and education is to be deflated by this culture. I am tired of this elitist mindset that exists in the sport. I hope it changes.
My mind that was clouded with anger was effortlessly cleared when I watched these skiers try and make their way down to the parking lot. many seemed to have skipped learning altogether and just bought gear. I found it amusing that they had made these comments when I could ski faster than them switch, so that’s exactly what I did,I felt like I stuck it in their faces. Was that elitist too?
hopefully this rant is coherent, I typed it on my notes app and thought I would edit it, I chose not to.
**This thread was edited on May 29th 2021 at 12:41:47am