Outdoor News and Notes
Mountaineer Kim Schmitz Killed in Car Accident
On September 19 legendary Yosemite climber and mountaineer Kim Schmitz died in a single car accident while returning to his home in Jackson Hole from a river trip in Idaho. He was seventy years old and still guiding clients and sharing his love for the mountains on a regular basis.
Schmitz first came to Yosemite in 1965 and quickly became one of the leading climbers along with Valley legends like Royal Robbins and Yvon Chouinard. In 1967 he climbed El Capitan in the very fast time of two and a half days, a remarkable achievement for the late 1960s.
After perfecting his big wall techniques in the Valley, Schmitz brought his skills to the Himalaya. In 1977, he made the first ascent of Great Trango Tower in Pakistan’s Karakoram range, describing it as endless Yosemite-style climbing in an alpine environment. Its unmatched wall of 4,300 feet of pure alpine granite has earned it the title of “the biggest big wall.”
By the age of 54, Schmitz had had nearly 40 surgeries due to his accidents in the Himalaya and a serious fall while guiding clients. In 2015, he was awarded the Miriam Underhill Award from the American Alpine Club for his lifetime contributions to climbing. One of the most respected American climbers of his generation, Kim Schmitz is gone but not forgotten.
Bell Seeks Joy Ride Program Ambassadors
The Bell Joy Ride Program is designed to inspire and enable female mountain bikers with regular, structured, fun and social rides that appeal to all levels of riders. This is a space where female riders can enjoy both challenge and camaraderie in a non-race oriented environment. After a hugely successful initial launch, Bell will be identifying five new ambassadors for 2017 to help achieve Bell’s mission to get more women riding on the dirt more often. You don’t have to be an awesome mountain biker — you just have to be passionate about women’s mountain biking. Applications will be accepted through November 15, 2016. Ambassadors will be announced in January.
Learn more at bellhelmets.com.
Alpine World Cup Ski Racing Returns to Squaw Valley
On March 9-12, 2017, Alpine World Cup ski racing will return to Squaw Valley for the first time in nearly 50 years, sited on the legendary Red Dog run that hosted the 1969 World Cup and 1960 Olympics. The Audi FIS Ski World Cup at Squaw Valley marks the return of World Cup ski racing to California for the first time in 19 years, and adds to a total of 16 World Cup events scheduled to take place in the US for the 2016-17 race season, the second highest ever. Olympic champions like Mikaela Shiffrin and Squaw Valley’s own Julia Mancuso will compete in women’s slalom and giant slalom events. The schedule features concerts, fireworks and parties.
Learn more at WorldCupSquaw.com.
Bear Valley Invests in Snowmaking and Grooming
Bear Valley announced more than $300,000 of improvements in its snowmaking and grooming operations in anticipation of the 2016-17 season. The enhancements include a better and more efficient snowmaking system along with new snowcats to groom the increased production of snow. As cold temperatures move in this fall and early winter, the resort will be more equipped than ever for its best snowmaking season ever. The snowcat fleet upgrade replaces several older machines with newer models. The resort will boast one of the cleanest, environmentally friendly, fleet of cats in the Central Sierra. The new fleet will include a 12-person Prinoth BR350 Cabin Cat to provide guests with comfortable access to the beautiful backcountry. This machine will better support the Bear Tracker Snow Cat Tours and service Ski Patrol for Avalanche control.
Read the full story here.
Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows Launches New App
Developed by the creators of the SkiLynx app, the new Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows app offers real-time lift, trail and snow data for iPhone and Android users along with unique new features including a one-touch easy “group” creation which allows users to stay automatically connected with friends and family on the hill, sharing location and messaging throughout their day at the resort.
Other features include location-aware “Smart Messages” that auto-populate the user’s location into messages for easy communication with friends and family; performance dashboard with daily and season-long data including trails and lifts skied, vertical climb, miles covered, hours skied, average and maximum speeds, and the difficulty of trails skied, and a day-end performance recap; chairlift wait times to allow users to plan their runs and navigate the mountain efficiently; and lift ticket pre-purchase options.
Navigation off of the slopes is also easy with maps pointing to key locations in relation to the user.
Learn more at squawalpine.com.
Nor Cal SUP kicks off SUP GROMs program
Nor Cal SUP announced the official kickoff of the Northern California SUP GROMs (Juniors) program. This program is available to kids between the ages of 13-18 regardless of skill or experience with StandUp Paddleboarding. “We are lucky to live in an area with access to lots of great paddle spots.” says Shelly Alves-Churilo, owner of Nor Cal SUP. “Our program will work to help educate the kids on pollution prevention and water preservation that is essential to maintaining the waterways for generations to come.” The first meeting will be held in January 2017 in preparation for the 2017 season which will begin May and end in October. Meeting time and dates will be posted at norcalsup.com.
Turn Loose Funds Adventure-minded Athletes
Truckee-based Turn Loose offers artistic, quality lifestyle gear to adventure-minded people, and views its gear as a gateway to the stories that embody an adventurer’s worldview. The company’s mission is to champion the call to adventure, enthusiasm, and ambition while supporting the people and projects standing for those ideals. The brand shares the vibe of people doing what makes them feel alive again – taking risks and going outside of their comfort zones; essentially, people turning themselves loose and inspiring others to do the same. Turn Loose gives 50% of their profits to fund athletes and inspiring projects with cash support.
Learn more at turn-loose.com.
Website Tracks Arrival of California’s Fall Colors
In 2005, Mono County publicist John Poimiroo launched californiafallcolor.com – a website for finding fall color in California – to draw attention to the eastern Sierra’s colorful foliage. Poimiroo points out that most Californians and visitors consider the Golden State as being “without seasons” seeing as there is so little autumn color throughout the vast Central Valley and along the coast. He seeks to dispell that notion, reasoning that “California is huge and within it are large pockets of fall color that are truly breathtaking to behold. You just have to know where to see it and when to go.”
Volunteer “color spotters” submit photos and status of the fall color in their area. For instance, in Inyo County, where the state’s first burst of explosive fall color is found, they keep an eye on popular leaf-peeping spots as Bishop Creek, South Lake and Sabrina, and Aspendale. This local knowledge ensures up-to-date information on how quickly or slowly colors are turning, and also provides insights and tips about where the best color-viewing areas are located.
Updates post as late as December. Inyo County helps sponsor the effort, along with other counties and fall color destinations across the state.
Read the full story here.
Sea Otter Survey Released
According to the annual count released by the US Geological Survey and partners, the southern sea otter continues its climb toward recovery. For the first time, southern sea otters’ numbers have exceeded 3,090, which is the threshold that must be exceeded for three consecutive years in order for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to consider de-listing the species as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.
This year’s survey results suggest an increasing trend over the last five years of more than three percent per year. The growth is accounted for by an unexpected jump in numbers in the center of the sea otter’s range, an area that spans the Californian coast from Monterey south to Cambria.
However, while the overall population index continues to trend upward, the northern and southern subsets of the population continue a negative five-year decline.
Read the full story here.