Open Letter to Backcountry Magazine
I just saw an old post on the "Fun til Death" blog (http://funtildeath.blogspot.com -- great bumpersticker) that caught my fancy. --Among all the posts that also caught my fancy. (Fun blog!)
He's a Kalamazoo guy who loves outdoor fun.
He wrote to the editor of "Backcountry" magazine asking that they include the Midwest in their coverage since quite a few folks do a lot of backcountry skiing in the Midwest.
Right now (and always) "BC" mag covers only mountains, like "Couloir" mag before it. But with "Couloir" that makes sense, as the title means a mountain bowl.
I don't know if he got a reply. I have my hunch.
I think we should be bolder in our claims. Backcountry means skiing off the groomers. It says "untracked." It implies free-heel skiing but isn't exclusive to that idea. It shouldn't mean only gravity action, either. It would seem to include trails. But even if it meant strictly earn-your-turns action, there's as much -- or more -- snow and hilly terrain in the Midwest and New England and everywhere else BEYOND the mountains as there is where it's steep and rocky. No, there's a LOT of snowy, steep'n'rocky outside of the various mountains, so I claim it, too.
But "BC" mag seems to cover only mountain action. As such, it's probably covering only 20% of "BC" skiing by any definition other than "in big mountains."
And, ya know what? Everyday country-style non-mountain BC is hugely accessible by millions more people than those who live in the mountains. And, in fact, jillions of people are already out there backcountry skiing the mellow terrain, rolling hills way. They just don't have a magazine. Mountains are low density. Most of the people are everywhere else. I suppose like most media, "BC" is fantasy based. But I prefer the wonder of reality. Big air might be good macho advertising, but there's just as much real fun out there before you lift off and after you touch down.
There are ever-more fun hogs out there finding their shady, powderful slopes and jumping in -- right near their everyday-terrain homes. They make their own gentle up-tracks that take, oh, 5 minutes to relax your way back up on your shaped nowax skis. Then you glide out your ridge a couple yards farther than last time, to your new line of fresh untracked powder, and romp on down.
The equipment you use is different than the mt-dudes. The scenes you see and the pace of the day is different.
Sometimes you go light and boost up the miles side of the trails while still keeping plenty of turn fun.
Or maybe you go all the way light and run a trail all day into the boonies and back, throwing in only a few turns along the way.
"BC" is all that and more.
The weird thing is we don't find hardly any of that in "Backcountry" magazine.
I'll grant that they did a big review of lighter nowax BC skis recently, along the lines of Karhu Guides. Cool. But how many articles and pics in the mag show such skis in use? That level of ski -- and even lighter -- would be the ticket to the backcountry for most Americans -- if they were promoted right. If you live in any kind of snow-country then avalanche-free and cost-free powder is probably closer than an hour to you.
What about NNN-BC bindings? I can't even get a hit on them at the "BC" website. With those boots'n'bindings you can ski for miles, all day, AND get good turns control. That's gotta be worth something.
No hits, either, on Rossi's Evo ski line -- a great ski for miles and decent float and turn.
"BC" really should admit some "XC" to its concept. Mtbiking has both DH and XC disciplines. Other free-heel magazines accept basically only the roadie view of life, while "BC" to date only covers the DH. The ski version of mtbike XC is ignored by EVERYONE. Yet it's the way most people ski, sez me!
I want to see a cover photo on "BC" of tree skiing ... with cat-tails in view just 20 yards downhill, or else! :) (And I know just the place to do the photoshoot.)
Maybe it's time to start a new mag for the rest of us. If so, I don't know why it would have to shut down for the spring, summer and fall. There's always fun "BC" things to do out there. What would we call such a mag?
I think "OYB" isn't such a bad name. : )
I do what I can. I welcome input from others. 1500+ stories, 20 years. One guy. It's a bit much. I could use some help. I hope that's always been obvious. Early on in paper-zine days, there were two of us. "OYB" started taking off and going gangbusters. There wasn't any stress but then there was one, again.
In the meantime, "BC" mag could take the pressure off, serve the people and open up enough to cover the actual "BC" beat! Please do! It would be such fun!