Backcountry traffic increasing | VailDaily.com

Backcountry traffic increasing

Allen Best

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Both commercialized recreation and motorized recreation continue to make inroads into the national forests around Jackson Hole.The U.S. Forest Service has agreed to more than double the number of skiers that High Mountain Heli-Skiing can drop in a wilderness study area. Meanwhile, the Forest Service also recently authorized the Jackson Hole Resort to expand the number of guided backcountry trips into an area adjacent to Teton Pass. At issue, says a group fighting the guided backcountry trips, is commercialization of the public lands. “With me, it’s more of a moral issue with the commercial interests crowding in on where the less privileged have skied for years,” C. “Stearney” Stearns, a member of a group called Powder to the People, told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. SStearns had skied at the pass before there the ski area opened. He and others want Jackson Hole to stick to areas adjacent to the ski area.The overriding issue, however, is the general growing use of quasi-backcountry areas close to highways, something that is happening across the West.”Ten years ago, people could still park at the summit of Teton Pass late on a powder day and wander into the woods to find abundant, untracked snow.” notes the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “Today, the parking lot is jammed on weekends and the well known and accessible – even the dangerous – runs are tracked before noon.”Easier terrain availableCRESTED BUTTE – The future is arriving at Crested Butte. A new fixed-grip lift has opened, but more important is the terrain it is to serve: Intermediate runs.Crested Butte ranks alongside the best in the West when it comes to expert and difficult terrain. However, it has too little beginner and intermediate terrain to keep most destination skiers happily occupied for more than a couple of days. As such, the push of the new owners of the ski area, Tim and Diane Mueller, is to expand the amount of lower-level terrain.Not incidentally, the new Prospector Lift is adjacent to new luxury homes, most of which have already been sold.Vail, Colorado