Last week was the single deadliest avalanche week in the US since 1910. Avalanches claimed 15 lives: five in Utah, four in Colorado, three in Alaska, and one each in California, Montana and New Hampshire. To date, this season, 21 people perished.  According to, all but five of the fatalities were skiers or boarders. 

Experts attribute the dangerous conditions to the thin early-season snowpack which weakened under the snow from  recent storms. That, of course, has been exacerbated by the increase in backcountry skiing, some of which is the result of Covid restrictions at the resorts. An increase in any activity means many novices who are not adequately educated about what they’re getting into. 

And, as we all know, there’s the element of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bad luck.

I have several friends whose passion is backcountry skiing. They have the proper gear and know how to use it. They’ve learned how to scope out terrain and how to study snow. They know what they’re doing. That said, one of them was caught in a terrible slide with life-altering consequences. 

Whether or not you’ll ever leave the resort, this first-rate 15-minute orientation film from is worth watching.

Sun Valley Expansion

Sun Valley has added 380 acres of expert terrain.  Called Sunrise, it’s served by  the new Broadway detachable quad. It replaces the Cold Springs chair, until recently the resort’s oldest. Click on the image to learn more.

Lower Covid Risk on Ventilated Gondolas

Swiss researcher measures gondola’s air volume.

Risk of Covid during a 12-minute gondola ride is 1000 times less risky than a dinner in a closed room with eight people. That, according to scientists at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology. Personally, I prefer gondola rides to good terrain far more than restaurants with good terrine. 

History of the Chairlift

Early Sun Valley chair

James Curran, who never skied a day in life, invented the chairlift at the request of Averell Harriman who was developing Sun ValleyThis article in the current issue of Smithsonian Magazine tells the story of the chair and other lifts. It’s good reading.

Generous Discount for Readers

I’ve reported on a few of the Biofit 360 CBD products. The company’s Deep Sleep CBD drops is the first product — Rx or OTC — to give my wife a full, uninterrupted night of sleep without side effects. It is exceptional. I’ve used its Relief CBD Cream as an alternative to OTC pills, and it really does the job. Now, Biofit is offering readers a 20% discount. To enjoy this benefit, click on the Biofit 360 ad on the right of the screen, shop, and enter SKIING in the discount code field when checking out, 

90,000+ Vertical in One Day

Jonathan Boblitt

Jonathan Boblitt skied 90,073 vertical feet at Beaver Creek (CO) on January 26. According to Vail News, he was inspired by his late grandfather who told him a good day of skiing is when he could get it down to 10 cents a run. Boblitt did 39 laps on the Birds of Prey lift. Those and the runs he took to reach Birds of Prey helped him get to 90,000 vert. Congratulations, Jonathan!

Kai Jones Skis Targhee

This two-minute video of 13-year old Kai Jones at Grand Targhee brought a big smile. Targhee is a powder magnet and a joy to ski. Watching this kid make his way down slopes, over cliff bands and through the park is a lot of fun.

We Appreciate Your Support

This is a brief thank you to readers who, over the past week, donated to You will be receiving a mailing with stickers. And, if you contributed $50. or more, you will receive the terrific BBQ apron specially imprinted with the vintage skier woodcut (see below). We’re encouraging readers to make a minimum gift of $10 to help defray the cost of publishing To participate, please click here. The fund-raiser will last through February.

Please, Take A Run For Me

I’ll be in the hospital and out of commission for a while. The coming months will require effort, grit and good luck. For the majority of readers blessed with good health or who have gotten through rough periods, I hope you remain well. For those facing health issues, I hope you get better soon.

Because of this situation, it will be some time before I get back to writing Short Swings!

For each of you fortunate enough to be on the slopes this weird (now, snowy)  season, I ask this favor: Next time you’re on the hill, please, take a run for me.


  1. Normand L. Reynolds says:

    Congrats to John Bobblit for the 90K vertical feet. I did 60K when I turned 60, and 70K at 70, both as fundraiser efforts. 80 is 3 years off….NO WAY!! My birthday is 2/29, leap day, and at 80 I’ll play that card and try to do 20K.

  2. Jon Weisberg says:

    Normand, That is fantastic! Keep us posted on the next fund-raiser. Jon

  3. John R Walstad says:

    All the best in your upcoming medical issues…Godspeed

  4. Richard Kavey says:

    All the best for a speedy recovery!

  5. Margery Martin says:

    Here’s hoping that your medical procedure goes well and that your recovery is quick. I hope that you’ll be back on the slopes next season.

  6. Pertaining to the Grand Targhee video….does anybody just ski anymore or has it become a “hucking” sport?!

    Pertaining to the large amount of vertical at Beaver Creek…..does anyone just ski for fun anymore or does it always have to be a superlative or competition of some kind?!

    Pertaining to the avalanches this past week…does anyone just ski anymore or do we have to put ourselves in harms way to get a thrill?!

    pertaining to the hospital visit by Jon W……Good luck and heal well!

  7. Edward Cohen says:

    Peter, I agree with you. It’s all about the snow, the sky, the clean crisp air, the trees, and the joy of linking a bunch of smooth rhythmic turns. It’s the freedom. I ski just for the fun.

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