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February 20, 2010

Decent Storm Brewing--Wolf Creek Already Has 16"

Not a lot more to say than that. Waiting to see what materializes at Brian Head and the AZ resorts.

Posted by Justin at 12:43 PM

February 11, 2010

Sunrise Trip Tomorrow

I have the day off work at the end of a long week and am heading to Sunrise tomorrow for a day of skiing.

Sunrise got 4" or so from the storm last night which is not exactly a powder day, but still is fresh snow. They have gotten a foot and a half in the last 4-5 days so the snow should be fresh and enjoyable.

Will report on the day tomorrow or Saturday.

Posted by Justin at 02:03 PM

February 10, 2010

Avalanche Article from the American Spectator

An odd place for an article on Avalanches, but good read nonetheless:

Recently, a young man was caught by an avalanche while skiing out-of-bounds at Snowbasin Resort in Utah. When found, he was dead and buried under only a foot of snow. The physics are interesting. When an avalanche stops, the snow settles within seconds and sets-up as hard as concrete. The victim's movements are paralyzed, and -- like drowning -- death usually comes within 15 minutes due to suffocation. Though there are historical cases of people surviving after being buried up to 45 minutes. At any rate, it's a hideous way to die...

There are precautions to be taken in avalanche country. Check avalanche conditions online or via local media before a trip. Know the landscape and avoid open, expansive areas without trees. Never cross-country ski, snowmobile, or otherwise travel alone in the backcountry. When accompanied by fellow recreationists, small portable shovels, collapsible steel probe poles, and electronic transmitter beacons all increase the survival odds if one is caught in a snow slide. If caught in a slide, flail your arms and legs around in a swimming motion that might leave limbs exposed when it stops. If there's time, extricate yourself from skis or a backpack to assist range of motion. Even a deep breath before it hits will increase survival time by a few minutes. Keep your mouth shut so it doesn't fill with snow and choke you. After all that, say your prayers.

But avalanches aren't the only hazard found out-of-bounds. Recently, at Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming, a 46-year-old man from New York skied over the line near day's end and simply got lost. He called the 911 on his cell phone and reported his predicament. When asked to describe his surroundings he noted an open snowy meadow with a creek flowing through it. Unfortunately, that described hundreds of acres in the area. The man had a GPS Unit, but didn't know how to use it. He was dressed well for a day of skiing, but lacked the extra clothes and survival gear needed to survive the night. Local Search and Rescue personnel and the Grand Targhee Ski Patrol searched for part of the night, but due to snowy weather and the avalanche danger, halted the search until daylight. In the morning they found the man dead of hypothermia.

It is all about preparation. First, know your surroundings. If you want to go backcountry skiing, at least know how to use a GPS and beacon. Have the right equipment. Never go alone.

There are hundreds of dangerous activities in life that are extremely fun and rewarding. Backcountry skiing can certainly be one of them, but it is not for the inexperienced. Hence why I do not ski backcountry. But even backcountry is no where near as dangerous as "side-country skiing" where novice skiers venture just over the ropes to try to track some wide open expanse of snow.

Know your limits. Have the right gear. Have SURVIVAL GEAR. Don't do stupid stuff.

Posted by Justin at 04:27 PM

February 09, 2010

Is Global Warming Going to Destroy the Ski Industry?

I don't like to wade too deep into the "Climate Change" waters, but got a link from a reader to story by a local news station about the ski industry:

Already, the Aspen Global Change Institute forecasts that if global emissions continue to rise, the local ski industry will be little more than a memory by 2100.

Among the group’s sobering findings:

“High greenhouse gas emissions scenarios… are likely to end skiing in Aspen by 2100, and possibly well before then, while low emission path scenarios preserve skiing at mid-to-upper mountain elevations. In either case, snow conditions will deteriorate in the future.”

Skeptics of global warming cite images of major blizzards and snowfalls measured by the foot in Midwestern and mountain regions. Williams says those pictures hinder efforts to convince people that a warmer future really is coming.

“It’s a small but constant change,” he said. “It’s hard for people to embrace that.”...

The Williams-Lazar report offered a glass-half-full scenario for Colorado. While other areas face devastation, change appears to be coming more slowly to places like Aspen.

That doesn’t mean it won’t come, even if freak early or late storms seem to paint a different picture.

“The way I think of it is: Do you want to ski with your grandkids? Or do you want your kids to ski with their grandkids?” Williams said.

“That’s about three generations out. That reverberates with people. They get that.”

Interesting. Scares the hell out of people.

Before I look at the methodology, I just want to point out a few things. First, there is a major correlation between the ENSO (El Nino) ocean temperatures and the snowfall in particular in either the Southwest or in the Northwest. Weather patterns caused by El Nino are well documented and there is a strong correlation.

Yet even in the strongest of El Nino years, climatologists cannot predict even within a narrow range of what the snowfall amounts will be. This is an El Nino year. How many inches approximately will Brian Head receive? Somewhere between 300-500". That is about as good as you will get.

And that is a short time horizon. That is only forward looking, say six months tops. If climatologists cannot tell me even a solid ballpark figure of how many inches of snow a particular resort will receive in a year, even as late as say--October, so I know whether or not to buy a season pass or when the opening day will be this season, how in the holy hell should I believe that they can tell me when opening day will be on average in the year 2100? In 2009, A-basin had their earliest opening EVER. October 9th. Climatologists say they can only make predictions about long term trends using fancy "closed source" computer models that have been ripped to shreds for their coding errors, not make short term predictions about anything useful. Water levels will rise several feet by 2100 and submerge half the coastal cities, but tomorrow there is a 40% chance of light showers. 40%? WTF?

Below the fold, I will get into why I am so disgusted by the scare tactics thrown around by the environmental folks that think putting up windmills is somehow going to help Aspen have good snow in 2100. And I won't even get into the Sierra Club saying that switching from coal to nuclear power is like switching from cigarettes to crack.

The study in question relied exclusively on temperature predictions taken directly from the IPCC's 2001 report. The IPCC's methods and claims are certainly in question with the recent scandals.

The folks at the UK Telegraph are all over the IPCC:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report is supposed to be the world’s most authoritative scientific account of the scale of global warming.

But this paper has discovered a series of new flaws in it including:

  • The publication of inaccurate data on the potential of wave power to produce electricity around the world, which was wrongly attributed to the website of a commercial wave-energy company.
  • Claims based on information in press releases and newsletters.
  • New examples of statements based on student dissertations, two of which were unpublished.
  • More claims which were based on reports produced by environmental pressure groups.

They are the latest in a series of damaging revelations about the IPCC’s most recent report, published in 2007.

Last month, the panel was forced to issue a humiliating retraction after it emerged statements about the melting of Himalayan glaciers were inaccurate.

Last weekend, this paper revealed that the panel had based claims about disappearing mountain ice on anecdotal evidence in a student’s dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.

And on Friday, it emerged that the IPCC’s panel had wrongly reported that more than half of the Netherlands was below sea level because it had failed to check information supplied by a Dutch government agency.

Researchers insist the errors are minor and do not impact on the overall conclusions about climate change.

However, senior scientists are now expressing concern at the way the IPCC compiles its reports and have hit out at the panel’s use of so-called “grey literature” — evidence from sources that have not been subjected to scientific ­scrutiny.

A new poll has revealed that public belief in climate change is weakening.The panel’s controversial chair, Rajendra Pachauri, pictured right, is facing pressure to resign over the affair.

That would be Nobel Prize winning Panel Chair...

But that is not the end of the story:

It can also be revealed that claims made by the IPCC about the effects of global warming, and suggestions about ways it could be avoided, were partly based on information from ten dissertations by Masters students.

One unpublished dissertation was used to support the claim that sea-level rise could impact on people living in the Nile delta and other African coastal areas, although the main focus of the thesis, by a student at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, appears to have been the impact of computer software on environmental development.

The IPCC also made use of a report by US conservation group Defenders of Wildlife to state that salmon in US streams have been affected by rising temperatures. The panel has already come under fire for using information in reports by conservation charity the WWF.

This is just not good science. It gets better for the inventor of the Hockey Stick Graph, Michael Mann:

There has also been an acclaimed new paper by Michael Mann, the creator of the iconic "hockey stick" graph, purporting to show that the world has recently become hotter than at any time in recorded history, eliminating all the wealth of evidence to show that temperatures were higher in the Mediaeval Warm Period than today.

After being used obsessively by the IPCC's 2001 report to promote the cause, the "hockey stick" was comprehensively discredited, not least by Steve McIntyre, a Canadian computer analyst, who showed that Mann had built into his computer programme an algorithm (or "al-gore-ithm") which would produce the hockey stick shape even if the data fed in was just "random noise".

Two weeks ago Dr Mann published a new study, claiming to have used 1,209 new historic "temperature proxies" to show that his original graph was essentially correct after all. This was faithfully reported by the media as further confirmation that we live in a time of unprecedented warming. Steve McIntyre immediately got to work and, supported by expert readers on his Climate Audit website, shredded Mann's new version as mercilessly as he had the original.

He again showed how selective Mann had been in his new data, excluding anything which confirmed the Mediaeval Warming and concentrating on that showing temperatures recently rising to record levels.

Finnish experts pointed out that, where Mann placed emphasis on the evidence of sediments from Finnish lakes, there were particular reasons why these should have shown rising temperatures in recent years, such as expanding towns on their shores. McIntyre even discovered a part of Mann's programme akin to a disguised version of his earlier algorithm, which he now calls "Mannomatics".

But Mann's new study will surely be used to push the warmist party line in the run-up to the IPCC international conference in Copenhagen next year to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, temperatures continue to drop. The latest Nasa satellite readings on global temperatures from the University of Alabama, one of four officially recognised sources of temperature data, show that August was the fourth month this year when temperatures fell below their 30-year average, ie since satellite records began. The US National Climatic Data Center showsis showing that last month in the USA was only the 39th warmest since records began 113 years ago.

So where is the concensus?

Posted by Justin at 10:11 AM | Comments (1)

February 07, 2010

Truth in Motion

Sat down and watched Truth in Motion last night. Had it Tivo'd and got to watch it on the LCD in HD off of the local NBC station.

It really puts a face on the people that compete in the Olympics. So much of what we see is Shawn White this and Bode Miller that, but these are not the Shawn Whites with multimillion dollar endorsements. These are some of the most dedicated people you can find barely earning a living off sponsor money and ski team money to compete at the highest level.

What they do is not fun. It is not enjoyable. It is brutal. Most of the athletes describe some multiyear rehab from an injury that happened doing 60 miles per hour on icy snow. Bouncing from town to town and continent to continent to prepare.

And it is four years of preparation. Come the 1st of March, after the flame goes out in Vancouver, these athletes start gearing up for another four years of World Cups and qualifying and training to get ready for another go at the Olympics.

And if not, they prepare for the fact that their careers are over.

From the US Ski Team's site:

"Truth in Motion" stars 2010 U.S. Olympic Alpine Ski Team athletes Ted Ligety (Park City, UT), Sarah Schleper (Vail, CO), Jake Zamansky (Aspen, CO) and Tommy Ford (Bend, OR). There are also cameo appearances by Bode Miller (Franconia, NH), Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO) and Scott Macartney (Crystal Mountain, WA) along with numerous coaches and ski technicians who support this Team.

"You see exactly what we're going through every day," said Ligety, the 2006 Olympic combined gold medalist. "I don't think anybody has ever gotten a truly in-depth look at ski racing. It's cool in that respect. This portrays what we do.

Directed by Academy Award nominee Brett Morgen, the film takes you inside the locker room in every aspect of the being an elite ski racer, only their locker room is Portillo, Chile; Saas Fee, Switzerland; Soelden, Austria, on airplanes, long car rides and hotel rooms across the globe.

"This film spends more time on the characters and people, the personalities and the perseverance," said Scott Keogh, chief marketing officer for Audi of America, which has supported the U.S. Ski Team since 2007.

There is a noted lack of glamour as the film takes you through pre dawn wakeup calls to check lactate levels and stretch before riding a frozen chairlift to work. The athletes are candid, raw and provide an insight to their sport that cannot be seen in a two-minute race.

"There were numerous moments where people said things to us that shocked and surprised us at how open they were," said Morgen, who followed the Team from Chile to Park City and then to Switzerland and Austria. "It was very important for us to let the skiing tell the story."

Schleper provides a unique aspect to the film as she delves into the difficulties of juggling motherhood with working to achieve her Olympic dream. Following two missed seasons after the 2006 Olympics – one to a torn ACL and the other for the birth of her son Lasse, who turns two Saturday – Schleper battled back into the World Cup elite and successfully made her fourth Olympic Team.

I strongly recommend that you watch it when it repeats on NBC this week.

My comments to Jake after we finished watching it:

Jake, I have watched you ski since you were 5 and seen how much better you get every time we go out. If you really put your mind to it, dedicate yourself, and train hard for the next few years, one day, you might be good enough to make the US Ski Team and get a job waxing and tuning their skis.

I am a supportive dad. It is what I do.

Posted by Justin at 02:22 PM

February 01, 2010

Intrawest Defaults on Loans, Lenders Start Foreclosure Process (h/t Mark)

A reader sent me this story from CBC regarding Intrawest's financial problems:

Wall Street financiers say they are going to put the Whistler Blackcomb resort up for sale while the facility is hosting Winter Olympic events next month.

Creditors who have lent $1.4 billion US to the ski resort's owners, Intrawest ULC, have effectively seized control of the company and are attempting to auction off its assets.

Whistler Blackcomb, one of numerous ski resorts Intrawest owns in Canada and the U.S., is set to host major ski events at the Olympic Games next month.

On Tuesday, a notice of a public auction to be held Feb. 19, 2010, was published in newspapers in Canada and the United States, soliciting bids for a membership interest in Intrawest Holdings. Among the assets in the notice were "partnership interests in two resort properties located in Canada (Whistler and Blackcomb)."

In 2006, Wall Street hedge fund Fortress Investments LLC bought Intrawest in a $2.8-billion US deal. Fortress recently missed a $524 million debt payment connected to that purchase.

The primary lender on the Intrawest deal in 2006 was defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers. New York debt managers Davidson Kempner and Oak Hill Advisors also helped finance the deal, and a source familiar with the process told CBC News the major creditors are united in pursuing the auction process.

Typically, lenders are willing to work with borrowers to avoid foreclosure. But the lenders' inability to move the debt repayment plan along seems to have spurred this week's unexpected developments.

Most of these issues are symptoms of the economic meltdown. Especially the meltdown in real estate values. There is more fallout coming.

Posted by Justin at 09:21 AM