Sunday, July 17, 2016

Garbage at Ski Area Slopes

In a few day's time I was able to visit four different ski areas and perform a standardized exploration of how much garbage could be found. Here is that experience.

First steps in this journey were taken at Mary Jane ski area in Winter Park Colorado on July 4th. I walked up the Panorama lift up to Parson's Bowl and then came back down a different route. Along this and all the journey's I used existing foot paths as much as possible. I left as little footprint as possible at all times. For this first trip, I was targeted at getting some of my own garbage that had been left, a telemark ski binding cable. I had lost it in 20" of snow powered on-top of 12" more powder. But found it exactly where I had remembered loosing the piece.

At the bottom of the ski slope I collected all the garbage and took a picture to document the amount of garbage. Below is the Mary Jane litter.

Then, I was taking a trip from Colorado to San Francisco and decided to stop at ski areas along the way. First stop was Park City Utah. I standardized the trip up the mountain, going 1,000 feet up, under a random ski lift, then came back down a different route.

Next stop was Heavenly Valley just south of Lake Tahoe in California. Same routine, 1,000 feet up, then a different route down.

Last stop on this journey I stopped at Alta just east of Salt Lake City. 

plus there was this extra garbage that I had collected, but didn't have space to carry up and down so left on the well traveled maintenance road.

Looking back on the photos it appears to me that Park City was the cleanest. But I had thought Alta was best. At least the wild flowers were the best I have ever seen. 

There are many more examples of garbage on the ski slopes in the form of abandoned infrastructure. Concrete foundations, piping, wires left exposed. 

When traveling back I was possibly going to hike up Steamboat Springs, but while traveling through I didn't have the energy. Some Forest Service people told me that those slopes have lots of garbage. What I would like is to have a Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) relationship that first develop the standard audit process, then can grant access to ski areas to compare and contrast the land stewardship cultures. Hope this journey helps keep our ski areas as clean as possible. The irony that I had my own trash that needed to be picked up isn't lost on my experience. 

Of course, the air travel miles that skiers use is far greater an environmental impact than any of this litter.  

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