Are Colorado’s backcountry skiing stashes “trade secrets?” A snowcat outfitter suing a former guide claims they are.
Stephen Bass approached Andy Sovick last year with a plan for writing a guide to snowmobile-access skiing around one of the most popular backcountry destinations in Colorado: Buffalo Pass near Steamboat Springs.
Bass, a ski patroller at Utah’s Powder Mountain ski area and a guide for two seasons with Steamboat Powdercats, said the book would “help organize crowds and help move people around more safely.” He said he wanted the book to offer not just route names and navigational tools, but “unwritten etiquette rules” about accessing public lands that are used by a commercial outfitter.
Sovick’s Beacon Guidebooks offer detailed photos, maps and terrain tips to popular backcountry ski zones in Washington as well as ski lines around Crested Butte, Silverton and Berthoud Pass in Colorado. He said authors who approach him often focus on areas with “lots of traffic, lots of users and lots of confusion.”
“I said awesome, let’s write a guidebook because this area needs one,” Sovick said.
Steamboat Powdercats, which has ferried skiers into the powdery terrain around Buffalo Pass for almost 40 years, doesn’t see the guidebook as helpful. In a lawsuit filed seeking to temporarily halt publication of the guidebook, the company argues Bass, who left the company on good terms last year, is using proprietary information and “trade secrets” for personal gain.
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