Dangers of Backcountry Skiing to Society and Individuals Essay

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Backcountry Skiing Do Not Outweigh the Individual and Societal Impacts

Backcountry skiing is one of the most popular winter recreational activities in many parts of the globe. This activity has gained much popularity with many people taking waiting for winter to take part in the largely accepted practice across those countries that have long winters. There are many impacts of the activity not only to individuals and society but also to the economy and environment. Although environmental conservation campaigns have been on the rise, limited literature explains the impacts of this activity on the people and the environment. The activity is used as a recreational activity for most of the people, but recent calls have been made to have an environmental analysis of the effects of the activity to ensure that the negative impacts have been reduced across the globe. In some cases, the skiing takes place on mountains or the raised grounds in the countries. This paper argues that the benefits that come with the activity do not outweigh the impact it has on the individual and society. The following analysis considers the difference between resort and backcountry skiing, the current trends towards backcountry skiing and the effects it has on the environment. The impetus towards the activity will also be analyzed to appreciate the reasons for the popularity of the activity especially among the young people in the society.

The Difference Between Resort and Backcountry Skiing

Backcountry skiing is also known as off-piste especially in the European region. Off-piste means out of the area, which means that kind of skiing that, takes place in unmarked or unpatrolled areas outside of a resort. This is different from the resort skiing that is usually conducted on grooming to patrolled trails. The difference is that the backcountry skiing takes place in areas that are not managed regarding the snow density or avalanche. The implication is that backcountry skiing can be hazardous at times leading to many fatalities in the process. More skills are required when it comes to the backcountry skiing based on the average vertical elevation, the maximum slope that one hits in degrees, and the total vertical descent in meters. These unknown factors can lead to many issues if they are not managed well by the skiers.

Conversely, the resort skiing is managed at all times, which means that more information about the terrain is available and the skiers can access this information and use it in their planning activities. This makes the resort skiing one of the safest skiing practices in comparison with the rest of the activities that are done with little information and no planning before the activity. In a ski resort, marked paths are available, and there is the installation of the first aid facility that is used to handle the injury cases faced by some of the skiers. There is also the ski patrol that is used to rescue the injured skiers. The patrol is also used for rules enforcements, the closing of hazardous paths, removing dangerous participants from the area as well as marking the hazardous points. Therefore, the number of injuries that occur in resort skiing are fewer as compared to the backcountry skiing.

Trend toward Backcountry Skiing

The current trend towards backcountry skiing is that the activity is on the rise across America and Europe. More people are taking part in this recreational activity today than was the case in the past. There is an increase in the sales of equipment, which an indication of the growing trend of background is skiing. The other trend has been the increase in educational practices where people are taught the best ways to practice backcountry skiing. People are taught the best ways to mitigate the mountain environment to reduce the number of injuries that occur during the activities. Businesses have previously recorded increases regarding sales for the equipment used in skiing. This shows that more people are taking part in the activity with the young people representing the largest number of those willing to take part in skiing (Falk and Vieru, 13).

Similarly, the number of resorts and places that allow skiers to practice are also on the rise, an indication that the winter sport is increasing in popularity not only in America but also in other places. With the rise in the number of competitions, experienced skiers battle it out for money and other prizes. The number of televised activities has also increased and indications that more people are taking part in the sport during winter.

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Consequently, some of the resorts have been involved in the creation of artificial snows with water and high-pressure air across the country. The practice is expensive, which is an indication that these resorts can earn enough money that can cater for the high expense in the creation of the artificial snow in different parts of the country. Artificial snow is created because climate change has led to different towns receiving shorter winters unlike previously when people skill for as long as they wished (Falk and Vieru 16).

Effects On The Environment

The environment is negatively affected by the creation of the backcountry skiing terrains. As stated earlier, there is little research on backcountry skiing, which in return presents a big challenge to wildlife and land managers when it comes to the provision of access to the public lands. The more skiers there are, the more the terrain that is needed to facilitate such activities. As explained in the trend towards backcountry skiing, its use has risen and the skiers spread across the landscape in an attempt to carve out their stash of powder. Most of the backcountry skiers operate the same way as hikers where they climb the high mountains and descend on high speeds (Wrigley 5). The implication is that wildlife is severely affected by the skiing activities as their individual fitness and population dynamics are affected.

Animals can respond to a threat in at least three ways. One of these is avoidance, habituation, and attraction. The avoidance behavior is of importance when it comes to the recreational activities out in the mountains. The unpredictability of the backcountry skiing makes it a threat to wildlife especially if the number of skiers is high. The practice is, therefore, of importance based on the increasing popularity of the activity across the USA (Richard and Cote, 18).

Wildlife responds through the flight and may move for long distances depending on the species of the animal. For example, the hunted animals and the large ones have a tendency of moving for longer distances in case they are distracted in their normal terrains. The other response is the change in habitat (Wrigley 5). Therefore, if the animals are constantly disturbed, they will move to another habitat that may not be desirable but safer to increase the chances of survival. The change of habitat in most cases leads to a change in the feeding ecology (Richard and Cote, 18).

Backcountry skiing is one of the activities that causes disturbances in various areas. For example, the black bears make one of the animal groups that change their habitat in the case of human disruption. Some management steps must be taken to reduce the effect that the skiers have on the wildlife and the feeding ecology (Fortin et al., 27). One of them has been the closure of the denning areas of the animals, especially during winter. The other step has been to regulate the size of land that is placed under skiing to minimize the human-wildlife interaction (Wrigley 8).

Most of the mountainous areas are being affected by climate change and having human disturbance is another major stressor that affects the populations in the mountain. Most of the wildlife is scared by the human activities and may migrate to other areas in search of safety and evade the disturbance (Landry, 20). There is also the damaging of the vegetation and the compacting of the soils that are used by the animals for various activities. This may lead to the reduction in the number of animals that are found in a certain region because of the decline in the safety of their habitat.

The creation of resorts on mountains leads to the attraction of many crows and the subsequent destruction of the habitat used by some species. This has happened in some countries such as Scotland where the Ptarmigans have reduced in numbers because of losing nests to the crows. An area may have the population of different animals reduces through either deaths or migration to other areas that are perceived as safer. Human interaction may make the animals fear and avoid being seen by hiding, which prevents them from having a normal feeding routine. This is evident in some locations where the hunted animals hide during the day and may not be able to feed in the right ways at night. The….....

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Works cited

Falk, Martin, and Markku Vieru. "Demand for downhill skiing in subarctic climates." Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism (2016): 1-18.

Faltus, John et al. "Utilization of ImPACT testing to measure injury risk in alpine ski and snowboard athletes." International journal of sports physical therapy 11.4 (2016): 498.

Fortin, Jennifer K., et al. "Impacts of Human Recreation on Brown Bears (Ursus arctos): A Review and New Management Tool." PloS one 11.1 (2016): e0141983.

Hopkins, Debbie, James ES Higham, and Susanne Becken. "Climate change in a regional context: relative vulnerability in the Australasian skier market." Regional Environmental Change 13.2 (2013): 449-458.

Landry, Devin W. "Impacts Of Recreational Aviation On Wildlife: The Physiological Stress Response In White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus) And Associated User Perceptions." (2016).

Major, Bridget, and Fraser McLeay. "The Ski Chalet Party: Motivators and Experience Revisited." (2015).

Richard, Julien H., and Steeve D. Cote. "Space use analyses suggest avoidance of a ski area by mountain goats." The Journal of Wildlife Management (2015).

Wobus, Cameron et al. "Projected climate change impacts on skiing and snowmobiling: A case study of the United States." Global Environmental Change 45 (2017): 1-14.

Wrigley, Kathryn T. "Master's Project: An Ecological Assessment of Backcountry Ski Trails at Bolton Backcountry in Bolton, VT." (2015).

Yamazaki, Junya et al. "Analysis of a severe head injury in World Cup alpine skiing." (2015).

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