Bill Schneider wrote a fascinating piece in the New West about the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) supporting motorized access to roadless areas. This ominous piece of news portends a dangerous point of view seeping into the outdoor industry, one that we as consumers that support this industry should be vigilant and vocal against. Unless of course you like hiking next to ATVs or motorbikes. Then by all means skip this blog on your way to get the pork rinds out of the pantry. Here is the OIA's position
“It has recently been suggested that OIA opposes motorized recreation
in roadless areas,” wrote recently departed OIA vice president for
government affairs Myrna Johnson in a March 2 presentation to the
Colorado Roadless Areas Review Task Force. “Let there be no confusion:
OIA supports the broad spectrum of recreation opportunities allowed in
roadless areas, from hiking, to mountain bicycling to motorized
Why is this ominous? Because once you allow any form of motorized travel in a roadless area, you make it very difficult politically to achieve any kind of Wilderness protection. Not to mention that is ruins the wilderness experience and creates severe environmental degradation. Take a walk along the Rubicon 4x4 trail that runs along Desolation Wilderness in Eldorodo National Forest and get up close and personal with car parts, oil, toilet paper, human feces, water coolers crushed trees. It's a tragedy. As Bill explains:
"Continued use of motorbikes on trails is the beginning of the end for any prospects for Wilderness. The Forest Service often allows ATVs to use the same trails they open to motorcycles. Then, the agency tends to confirm existing use, authorized or unauthorized, in
travel plans, so if dirt bikes or ATVs have been allowed to use a trail, which is the case on almost all trails except those already in
designated Wilderness, that trail shows up in the travel plan as open to motorized. Later, motorized recreation lobbyists supported by the FS use the travel plan and established use patterns as anti-Wilderness ammunition to shoot down proposed legislation. With its position, OIA essentially supports the basic evolution of land use that prevents Wilderness designation for our last roadless lands.
So that my 10 faithful readers is why Bill and I see this as an ominous sign. Another ominous sign for me is that the Chair of the OIA's Board is Kim Coupounas, the CEO of GoLite, one of the leading war profiteers in the industry. As her husband proudly said, "War can be good for smaller companies." Why don't any of these white guys (yes they're always guys and they're always white) ever say, "War, it really destoys the environment and we don't want to be involved or support it in any way." *Sigh. And we should trust these people to be stewards of the environment? Did I mention Kim's dad was a sales manager at White Horse Winnebago? Why do I get the feeling that the daughter of an RV salesman likes mechanized vehicles? Double *sigh. Wait, am I starting to rant. Let me get back on target. If you have the urge to do something, Bill includes emails for the appropriate people to contact:
Send your e-mails to OIA President Frank Hugelmeyer at email@example.com or Amy Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also send a note to the current OIA president Kim Coupounas, CEO of GoLite, at her company website, email@example.com. (Don’t forget to include a copy in the comment section on that follows this article.) Even better, have a chat with your local outdoor retailer, who is probably an OIA member, about a new position statement.
That's the question asked by New West's, Todd Wilkinson:
Despite there being more of us earning more money and now having far
greater options for leisure activities at our disposal, the trend line
demographic for the number of those seeking outdoor adventure -- i.e.
those willing to trek more than a mile from roadside trailheads -- is
in a spiral. Some believe a death spiral. Most national parks in the
country report that backcountry use is stagnant while demand on
frontcountry areas in the form of developed campgrounds, fishing docks,
picnic areas, and bike trails continues to surge.
Notice the term death spiral, which our favorite curmudgeon Climb_Ca used to describe the industry in, Outdoor Industry's Next Victim: Mountaineering? The piece includes an interview with Matt Colon, editor of the print edition of Backpacking Light magazine. Obviously a pipe dream, but an interesting read nevertheless. Lightweight backpacking is the Paris Hilton of the outdoors and the 15 minutes is up for both, no? Can we finally ignore it now? Please? The 350% growth in lightweight backpacking is probably just coming from backpackers switching over. It's not the weight that is keeping people away from the outdoors, it's the interweb damn it. And the Xbox. And reality television.
This is a pretty hard thing to deal with for manufacturers, most of their stuff is made in Asia and things can, well, get lifted of the assemby line and then copied and then distributed extremely quickly in major cities. Case in point, Kathmandu sees a huge number of trekkers roll through in need of cheap gear. While some may come with real top gear, many come without and buy there. I mean, if you're doing a round the world trip, do you want to be lugging an extra 20lbs of cold weather clothes? No, so you go to the Thamel in Kathmandu and you dump $100 USD on everything you need, fleece, wind top, sleeping bag, maybe even a pack. Boots, that's up to you. Everything says TNF on it, so you think you got a really good deal. Or maybe not, you realize you're buying fakes. Our friends at ThePiton.com posted this story that perhaps the fakes are not so bad:
“In both extremes, the fake Mountain Hardwear (MH) and the ‘real’ Marmot excelled at the jobs they were designed to do – retain warmth and breathe,” said Fearn who forked out US$99 for the Marmot, and US$5 for the MH. “I’ve compared it to the original and found no difference at all other than paying 85% less for the knock off! And keep in mind, there is a growing number of good quality knock-offs out there in the market.”
So the gear worked well-enough. For 95% of the visitors to Nepal and the like, this gear will be 'good enough.' I agree. Fleece, is fleece. A 'Windstopper' jacket maybe a little less than the original, but probably good enough. With water resistant laminates, a 'Gore-tex' jacket is also a good pick up, it will most likely serve it's purpose. Sleeping bags, however, are not a good deal. I bought one for the treks into base for the tea houses and it was basically filled with chicken feathers. Knockoff boots, tents, and backpacks? No way, go with the real stuff, your feet, back, and sleep are worth it. In addition, there's someone looking out for you. As a lot of fakes are sold on eBay, this site will guide you to the good vendors and warn you about the shady ones.
Boulder boys in the New York Times magazine Style section!
Boulder boy Kai Welch sends...
In a white, $1,300 Belgian-designed deconstructed sweater, white $700 Yves Saint Laurent Capri pants and matching white chalk bag. Watch out not to scratch your Dior Homme by Hedi Slimane sunnies! You’ll be delivering newspapers to pay those off, young man.
A quadrant of boulder boys!
Clockwise from left:
A pedophile’s delight! Creepy use of harness on cherry-lipped lad Brett Pinar with luridly hung carbineer/ATC combo.
Oh my! Jason Griffin has been so busy he arrived at the shoot straight from the Pacific Stock Exchange trading floor and didn’t have time to change from his peach Polo Ralph Lauren oxford. Look at how versatile he is: Whip off the tie, slip into ratty camo shorts, grab your Cookie Monster chalk bag and wrestle pebbles!
Jason Boyd always wanted to wear his mom’s jeans. He never dreamt they would cost as much as his car payment.
On slouchy Jake-Gyllenhaal-doppelganger Andy Funaro, tee by Patrick Ervell, blouse by Miu Miu. Why is there chalk on his fly? Please don’t answer that.
I wonder why they’re all so clean. I wonder why the stylist thought it would be a good idea to put such an awful lot of chalk on the backs of their hands and arms. I wonder if they got to keep the clothes and will sell them on eBay and get enough money to live in their cars and climb for a month. I wonder if any of them packed up their trucks, turned manorexic and drove out to New York to make it as top male models. I wonder which one Nicky Hilton decided to date.
P.S. Apologies for not being able to provide a link to the full article, “Boulder Dash,” April 23, 2006. The NYT has removed the images from its Web site.