Mountain News: Who's got your back skiing in trees? 

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Skiers trend older

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — The average age of skiers is 38.5 years. But who skis the most?

It would be somebody considerably older, 68 and above, who averaged 9.5 days of skiing last season. But baby boomers — those aged 49 to 67 this year — also skied more than the national average of five times per year.

That comes from the National Ski Areas Association, courtesy of the Associated Press. The news agency traces this surge in silver-haired skiers to artificial hips, knees and other medical advances, along with shaped skis, improved grooming and then the luxury touches such as high-speed lifts and even ski valets.

"There are no excuses," said Aspen's Klaus Obermeyer, who is 94.

Billy Kidd, the skiing ambassador for the Steamboat Ski Resort and the 1964 Olympic silver medallist in slalom, is a walking billboard for the latest in equipment innovations.

"At 20 years old, I didn't care about comfort," Kidd said, who is 70. "I still have to have control, but the top priority for me (now) is comfort."

Staying out of avalanche trouble? Be honest

DRIGGS, Idaho — It's early yet, so no avalanche fatalities have been reported in the Teton Range on the border between Idaho and Wyoming. If history is any guide, there will be.

It won't be for lack of opportunities to discern risk. Multiple seminars are held each year on both sides of the range, in Jackson Hole and in Teton Valley. And there are a great number of avalanche professionals, including Lynne Wolfe.

Wolfe is a backcountry guide, winter and summer, and also editor of The Avalanche Review, a journal published four times a year, covering everything from avalanche forecasts and research to risk assessment and rescue dogs.

She tells the Valley Citizen out of Driggs, where she lives, that while she has skied British Columbia, Alaska and the Alps, she seems to like skiing in the Tetons best. "I'm kind of a Teton snob," she said.

But she has plenty of company in the Tetons. Access is difficult, so competition for fresh snow is fierce, and people are willing to take greater risks in pursuit of untracked snow.

Her advice for skiing the untracked power? Be honest in how much you know and what you don't know.

"The heart of good decision-making is understanding what kind of avalanche problem you're dealing with and not underestimating things," she told the Citizen.

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