Tag Archives | snow

Snow Appreciation

With the Winter Olympics in full swing and ski season well under way, it’s all too easy to get caught up in thinking of snow as a means to an end: skiing.

But there’s a lot more to snow than just being something to slide on. Snow is transforming. It covers the world’s imperfections under a pristine blanket of white. When it snows, the world seems to stand still. It deadens sound and calls our attention to things we miss when the world is full of color. Yet sometimes when we ski, we fail to see the beauty of snow. We’re so intent on getting down the mountain, or in making our turns, or in perfecting our technique, that we don’t really notice the beauty around us. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I stop and look around, I get a catch in my throat. It’s that beautiful.

I’m by no means an accomplished photographer, but I thought I’d take a break from the usual blog posts about gear and resorts and the like and show you some pictures I’ve taken. Some are at ski resorts, some aren’t. But all celebrate the beauty of snow.

Late Fall, Camel's Hump, VT

Late Fall, Camel’s Hump, VT

 

First Snow, VT

Early season snowfall, VT

 

Big Sky, Montana

Skiing into the clouds, Big Sky, Montana

 

Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky, Montana

 

Powder Mountain, UT

Powder Mountain, UT

 

Morning in the Wasatch, UT

Morning in the Wasatch, UT

 

Looking down the lane, VT

Looking down the lane, VT

Light pillar in Whiteface, NY

Light pillar in Whiteface, NY

 

Vermont road

Vermont road

 

Vermont cemetery

Vermont cemetery

Sugarbush ski area, VT

Sugarbush ski area, VT

Green Mountains, Okemo, VT

Green Mountains, Okemo, VT

As skiers, we’re lucky to be out in some of the most beautiful landscape on the planet. Take some time to take it in. You’ll be glad you did.



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Want to save the snow? Plant some trees.

Say trees to a skier, and most likely they’ll picture this:

tree-skiing-in-steamboat-springs-powdercats

But trees are good for more than just a skier’s playground. They can be an important tool in the fight against global warming. Trees remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the air and emit oxygen into the atmosphere. Less global warming means colder temperatures, which can mean more snow, which means more skiing for me in, say, trees.

So it all goes full circle. I like that.

Recently, I learned that Jay Peak Resort in Vermont is working with a program called the Clear Water Carbon Fund to fund tree planting throughout the region. I spoke with Laury Saligman, co-founder of Conservation Collaboratives, to find out more. An avid cross country skier whose love of  the outdoors mirrors her passion for the environment, Laury  has an MS from the Harvard School of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences and is a Toyota Audubon TogetherGreen Fellow. Her organization, which she founded in 2006 with her husband, John McGill, is a partner in the tree planting effort.

Q: I understand that the program is based on the use of carbon offsets. Can you tell me what these are and how they work?
A: Sure. All of us produce carbon emissions in our day-to-day activities, whether we’re driving to work or driving to a ski area. These emissions go into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Carbon offsets counteract those emissions by linking the person or the business responsible for the emissions to an entity that can absorb them, most often renewable resources. So it’s a way to support these resources by “offsetting” the emissions that have already been produced.

Q: So what’s the Clear Water Carbon Fund? And how is it involved with Jay Peak?
A: The Clear Water Carbon Fund is a carbon reduction program that funds the planting of trees on behalf of individuals and businesses who are interested in reducing their carbon footprint. Jay is offering carbon offsets through its website and online booking. So if you’re coming to Vermont to ski, but you’re attracted to the region – the fresh air, the beautiful views – you can counteract the CO2 you produce traveling here by going to the Jay website and contributing to the Fund. Also, when you book a trip online, you will be invited to participate in the program.The money goes toward  planting and maintaining  trees, periodic monitoring to verify the amount of carbon they store, and paying monetary incentives to landowners  for the loss of  revenue-generating activities such as the use of these areas for hay.

Q: Are the trees planted locally?
A: Yes. Even though CO2 is a global pollutant, the trees will have the same effect on global warming no matter where they’re planted. In Vermont, we’re working with the White River Partnership to replant in areas that were denuded by Tropical Storm Irene or that’ve been assessed as important to watershed health. And we’re working with NorthWoods Stewardship Center to plant trees in the Clyde River watershed,  a tributary of Lake Memphremagog in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. In Maine, we’re planting trees along the Crooked River in the Sebago Lake watershed and along the Androscoggin River near Bethel.

Q: All these are along the water’s edge. Why? 
A:  We try to do all our plantings  within 150 feet of a creek or river. With good reason. Trees help prevent soil erosion, filter sediment and harmful pollutants to keep  water clean, and provide shade for aquatic species and resting areas for migratory birds. We try to plant native species — cottonwood, red maple, and a variety of bushes and shrubs. The more we can mimic the natural environment, the better.

Q: So how may trees have you planted so far?
A: Probably around 2,000. Jay Peak is the first ski resort in the area to offer this to their guests, but we’re hoping to expand it  throughout the state. This way  skiers can both take responsibility for their carbon dioxide emissions and protect our local environmental and water resources. I just wish every ski area would offer this to their guests, and that everyone who came to Vermont would pay a few dollars to support the natural infrastructure that makes this state so special.

 

Laury Saligman and family.


Laury Saligman and family.

 



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Thanks, snowmaking.

I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a fantastic husband, a great family, terrific friends, and good health. I have a roof over my head and I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. And I get to ski weekdays, when the crowds are pretty low.

All in all, life is pretty good.

In my last Thanksgiving post , I talked about why I was thankful for skiing. And though one of the things I mentioned was how it’s helped me appreciate certain technological advances, this year I wanted to focus on one that stands out from the rest:

Snowmaking.

Snowmaking is the reason that most of us, at least in the east, are skiing right now. Without it, we’d be standing at the top of a hill looking down at grass and rocks. And how sad that would be.

Ah, the miracle of modern science.

Here’s a good example: Okemo (VT), November 8. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? And it’s all because of snowmaking.

Okemo, VT, November 8, 2012

If you’re like me, you probably don’t know a whole lot about how snowmaking works. Oh, sure, I’ve seen the guys out there, dragging the hoses and positioning the guns where they’ll do the most good.  And I know that it can be pretty wicked to ski through a snowgun in action. But I wanted to learn more. So I tracked down two videos from OnTheSnow.com that do a pretty good job explaining how snowmaking works (Part 1), as well as the economics involved (Part 2).

Forget the Macy’s parade. Here’s some real Thanksgiving entertainment. Eat your turkey, then gather ’round and take a look at these. And when you get out on the hill, thank your local snow maker.

Enjoy! And have a happy Thanksgiving!



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Save Our Snow!

Anyone who loves skiing should know about the Save Our Snow Foundation — for obvious reasons. Lose the snow, and you lose something we skiers feel passionately about. After all, if there’s no snow, there’s no skiing. Just last year a ski area in France actually closed due to lack of snow (Abondance),

But as they say, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Nearly 50% of the world’s drinking water comes from glacial and snow melt. No snow, and a lot of the world goes thirsty. Conversely, glacial and snow melt can drive up ocean levels, sinking low lying areas and submerging islands.

There are other problems, too. Global warming can cause more extreme, unpredictable weather, leading to more severe, frequent droughts and storms. And it can allow warmer weather insect species to invade and devastate our northern forests and crops.

As snow lovers, we can’t just sit idly by and allow this to happen. Save Our Snow is a good place to start. The organization was formed to educate people on the problem of global warming. Believe it or not, there are some people who still don’t believe this is a reality. Even the CEO of General Electric, whom I saw on the Stephen Colbert show the other night, remain unconvinced. (I’m shaking my head even as I write this; it boggles the mind.)

You can check out Save Our Snow or donate to the cause here. Every little bit helps.




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