New book looks at ski industry and climate change
January 22, 2014
Steamboat Springs — There were many anecdotes that shocked Powder magazine writer and editor Porter Fox.
Such as a story in Chamonix, France, where a man had to add rungs to a ladder each year to compensate for the receding glacier to the tune of 200 feet in 20 years.
And in Montana, where an old rancher said the snowpack is decidedly less than in years past.
From Switzerland to California, all signs point toward winters as we know them becoming less prominent.
"I've been at Powder for 14 years, and we didn't have a handle on any of the stats," Porter said. "We'd done some coverage, certainly, on the environment, but we didn't quite connect the dots. It's potentially the end of skiing as we know it by the end of the century. It's shocking to me and everyone I tell it to."
Five years ago, a couple of middle-class skiers in Jackson Hole, Wyo., made Fox a proposition. They'd advance a book if he was willing to write it.
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Released in November, "Deep: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow" looks at the history and culture of skiing and how climate change could rapidly change that in the coming years.
Fox will sign books at 7 p.m. Saturday at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. He then will give a multimedia presentation from 9 to 11 p.m. at Olympian Hall. The Olympian Hall presentation will include prizes and ski gear.
Fox's Jackson Hole buddies had no dog in the fight but realized the snow around Jackson wasn't as much as it used to be.
"They just saw diminishing snowpack across the Rocky Mountains," he said.
Fox spent his first six months engrossed in climate change research, reaching out to scientists across the globe.
Once Fox better understood the subject, he set out to see what others were seeing.
He talked to ski patrollers, ski bums, avalanche forecasters, hydrologists and ranchers, to name a few.
He flew from the Cascades to the Rockies and all across Europe.
"I was talking to people to see what they had to say," Fox said. "Not all of it matched up (with what scientists said), but almost all of it did. It was very powerful to see as a skier."
The first part of the book looks at the history of skiing and snow sports before looking at climate change and some of the legislation that's taking place.
Finally, it looks at a path to get climate change to a reasonable level.
The reality of climate change and ski areas is startling, Fox said. He said what he found through his research is that about half of the 100 ski resorts in the Northeast could close in the next 30 years. With the rates of greenhouse gases rising, by the year 2100, the snowpack in the West could decrease 25 percent to 100 percent.
Fox said the story puts global warming in a context most people, especially those in resort towns such as Steamboat, can understand.
"This story puts it in a very tangible aspect," he said. "We're talking snow in your backyard and on your own hill. We're talking about powder days in Steamboat."
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