Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Finally stopping that crazy suffering that is ice, climbing to concentrate on great ski tours!, .
Interest: Anything that can drag me to the mountains. Backpacking is #1, followed by climbing, dayhiking and camping with family.
Safety consciousness has increased greatly, and in some ways has not. Huh?
Well, in 1970 we were in the Tonquin Valley and people seemed to be doing everything possible to attract bears. 30 years later, people are very careful of their surroundings, but we still see yahoos on busy trails that don't have a clue. There sure are more people now that seem to get it, and that is good.
People are better equipped. Thirty years ago we often saw people days out with barely enough gear, including food and water, to make it. Today, thanks to the prices of good gear coming down in relative terms, lots of people have good, safe gear.
Ounces have been shaved off in the last three decades, but the real benefit is affordability and durability. I can put together a pretty decent kit for $2000 today including some pretty spanky stuff. It has made high-tech backpacking fun without diluting the experience. You still have to climb that pass, you still get to breathe the air.
One thing that has changed is the management of certain trails, and their usage. National Parks now often restricts the number of users, and this is good. We're enthusiasts, but I know that we also are conservationists too. Lake O'Hara is still a zoo in the summer, but thanks to the bus and some other restrictions, crowds are under control. It is a bit of a hassle to deal with three-month-out reservations and so on, but it's worth it if my grandkids get to revel in the area's beauty as I saw it.
In my own personal kit, the biggest difference is clothing. All the layers are better, more affordable, and in every instance even marginal gains feel huge on the trail. Those fabrics have been around for some time, but they are constantly being refined and redefined.