Lou Dawson of Wildsnow: Episode 3
Some Euro style updates from Lou Dawson
Lou Dawson and his log Wildsnow.com are the authority on backcountry skiing, not just locally in the roaring fork valley, but worldwide. Over the years of running a ski touring shop in Carbondale Colorado Lou has become both a friend and mentor of ours. Surprisingly, his mentorship exists perhaps more in the business world in backcountry skiing than on the technical side of ski mountaineering. Through Lou’s love of the sport he has truly become one of the first professionals in backcountry skiing. He has achieved this not only by being the first person to climb and ski all 54 Colorado 14ers but through his never ending love and enthusiasm for the sport and the gear that allows us to get where we want to go.
A true piece of backcountry skiing history. Lou's court summons for skiing out of bounds on what is now the iconic Highland's Bowl hike. If you are TDP fan you will recognized the movie quote from our intro "Skiing out of bounds is illegal you know"
This is why our podcast with Lou discusses the general culture of ski touring than his personal accolades, of which there are plenty but he is too humble of a guy to get him talking about them much. He is lucky enough to take several press trips a year to Europe and South America and is usually the first guy to get his hands on the gear once it has left the prototype phase. After all what better perspective can you have watching the gear evolve from where it was in the 1970s, where it was still good enough to get him down gnarliast mountains in Colorado, to where it is today.
Lou is more than just a gear nerd and mountaineer. He fully believes in building community around backcountry skiing. In some ways this is a large undertaking in a sport that is so solitary. Skiers protect their stashes with vienamnce comparable to any Californian surfer during its hay day. Of course, being the first to ski the 14ers would make Lou entitled to his own secret stashes. WRONG Lou has welcome’s all to his home away from home at the Wildsnow field HQ in Gnarble. He has improved awareness and accessibility and even has an emergency Satellite phone deep in the backcountry that he makes all frequent users aware of.
If you don’t follow Wildsnow yet make it your homepage and check it everyday. It possesses endless tips and resources for the aspiring backcountry skier (even some guest blogs by yours truly) and further shows Lou's commitment to growing the community and knowledge for the sport. He also has extensive coverage of avalanche safety and accidents, his own included. This has proven to be a delicate matter it is always easier to point out mistakes after they have been made and has the ability to offend some people. I do believe that is important to study the mistakes of those who came before us in goal of staying safe in what can be a dangerous endeavorer.
Learn from the podcast, learn from Wildsnow.com, but most of all learn from Lou and be friendly to newbies that are less experienced than yourself. After all it was not long ago that someone took you out on your first tour and you were the one cursing at the bindings or slipping around on the skin track. Maybe this is even still an event in every tour for us all.
- Doug Stenclik