Accessing backcountry snow from a ski resort is nothing new. But the management of that snow -- which is uncontrolled by ski patrol and routinely avalanches if the terrain is steep enough and the conditions unstable enough -- has changed over the decades. Public land agencies like the U.S. Forest Service have moved from a stance of trying to limit access so that only experienced, knowledgeable people venture into the backcountry, to a stance of enabling access for whoever desires it, regardless of their experience and knowledge.
This feature, which ran on Page 1 of ESPN.com, examines that shift in strategy based on an unnerving episode two friends and I witnessed last spring in the Tenmile Range. Here is a link to the story:
And here are two photos of the zone in question. The first photo shows the terrain with a fresh coat of snow. The second shows the same zone three weeks after the episode I wrote about in my story. You can see debris from a massive avalanche that released overnight, without any human trigger.