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Why do ski magazines exaggerate geographical statistics? Are writers or editors
purposively lying, thinking that readers won?t be interested in a story if a
peak is lower than they claim? Or are they incompetent, perhaps not knowing how
to read an altimeter or topographic map? I don?t mind when heights of peaks
are slightly rounded up, from 4900 feet to 5000 feet or angles of slopes
rounded up from 38 degrees to 40 degrees. But much greater exaggerations are
found in the current issue of Backcountry in a section about ski huts.

The article about a hut in Gros Morne National Park of Newfoundland claims that
the peaks are 3000 feet above the fjords. That?s an exaggeration by 10%, as
the highest point on the island is only 2670 feet. It then claims that the
ridge above hut is 2775 feet high and the vertical drop to the chalet is 1500
feet. Actually, the ?ridge? above the hut is only 1970 feet high, making
the vertical drop to the chalet only 660 feet, less than half of the claimed
drop. Finally, it claims that the vertical drop of the nearby Trout River Bowl
is 2000 feet. Actually, it?s only 1410 feet, with half this drop being below
what most people refer to as the ?bowl?. The only statistic they got
correct is the amount of vertical from the trailhead to the hut.

Another geographic error is that the pond near the hut is referred to as School
Brook Pond, whereas it?s actually Sellar Brook Pond. Maybe the author had
trouble understanding the thick Newfoundland accent when told the name of a
nearby pond called Shoal Brook Pond.

A recent article on Newfoundland in Skiing magazine also contains exaggerations.
The first sentence starts by saying the best skiing in the East is not in
Quebec, VT, or Maine, but rather Newfoundland. Seeing how the author said he's
from British Columbia and only skied 4 times in the East, how would he know
where the best skiing is located? The second half of that sentence says the
"skiing is there for the taking - but only if the [snowcat] is running that
day". So it has the best eastern skiing, but only if you get carried up the
hill there with a snowcat? Skinning doesn't get the job done?

These exaggerations remind me why I despise skiing magazines and never get
subscriptions. A contrast is the magazine Rock and Ice that I recently perused.
It is well written with excellent photos, good gear reviews, and appears to be
full of solid information about little known places. Why can't a skiing
magazine do that? Why do ski magazine articles about little known places have
to talk up how great it is, exaggerating the statistics. Why can't they just
give the information without all the fluff? For example, in the Newfoundland
article by Skiing, there are half as many photos of road signs as there are
people skiing.

Maybe I?m too concerned about these matters because I?m a scientist that
deals with accuracy and precision on a daily basis. There is probably a fair
number of skiers like me that get annoyed by these things, and once they
realize the geographical statistics in an article are wrong, won?t believe
anything written in the magazine (and simply put it back in the rack without
purchasing).

In contrast to these articles is the one by Amy K. in the current Mountain
Gazette. A highly enjoyable read that nicely brings out the flavor of the
Wallowas and the peculiarities of the skiers in her group without exaggeration.
Why do we only get her husband's musings on Skivt-l?

Can you tell that it hasn't really snowed yet in Idaho this season and I have
nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon than read ski magazines?
Fortunately, the upcoming week is predicted to be realtively stormy. With any
luck, there will be skiing by next weekend.

Jim

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