Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Got Wind? Snowkiting Across the Moon

It was www.ukbinc.com - Utah Kite Boardingwindy this morning driving over the hill from Kamas into Park City. As I passed a farmers field, one of only a few left, five kiteboarders were cruising back and forth on the snow, their kites soaring with the wind, skis and snowboards their sliding devices. It reminded me of a couple guys from North Dakota who are setting out next week to cross the moon, on snowboards with kites.

I've never been to the moon but I've seen some places in Southern Utah that sure look like they could be the moon. Inhospitable, dry, and nothing for miles. There is Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. I've never been there either but after telling a buddy he should stop there on the way to Oregon from the Tetons he sent me a single photo of him flipping off the monument sign. I guess he didn't like the moon so much.

Some have said that North Dakota in the winter resembles the moon. Inhospitable, extremly cold and not a sign of life for miles at a time. And then there's the wind. Lots of it.

The AWEA (American Wind Energy Association) reports that North Dakota could theoretically supply over 1/3 of the electricity needs of the United States. (check out ND in the map to the right showing the windWind Density Classification for the United States. densities) With competing costs to produce per kilowatt in the same price range as that of coal and natural gas, cleaner air and cleaner electrity is there for the taking. Yet according to a 2003 article that appeared in the Stanford Report in 1999 only .12 percent of the electricity in United States was produced by wind.

Granted this number has increased since 1999, but by how much? Is your business powered by wind or solar? How about your home? Your neighbor's home? Anyone in your neighborhood? If you're like me, which I suspect you are, you answered no to all of those questions.

Solar has been a hot topic this past year. Some outdoor companies, like Black Diamond, have gone solar. Others like Ibex, are using Cow manure (no that is not a misprint) to provide electricity for their business needs. Vail Resorts has converted to 100% wind power and by so doing is the second largest purchaser of wind power among all US corporations. 100%!? Right on Vail! (never thought I'd say that)

So what has all this talk about wind got to do with Snowkiting across the moon? Everything. The two aforementioned North Dakota based athletes are going to launch an expedition next week to snowkite across the state of North Dakota. They are doing this in an effort to raise awareness about the potential that exists in wind power. Using Ozone kites for momentum while sliding on skis and snowboards they'll travel up to 35 miles per day.
Map of North Dakota route to kite ski/snowboard.
Be sure to check their site to follow along as they start the expedition. (check out their map to the right)

To Cross the Moon- snowkiting across North Dakota

One thing is for sure, all this talk of wind power has got us here at Backcountry.com rethinking where our power is coming from.

To this end I'm currently researching the cost to convert Backcountry.com to wind power. While the finance guys aren't too keen on cost increases, the CEO told me that if it means we'll put less of a strain on the enviornment by going to a clean energy source then he'll pony up the extra clams for wind power. I'll keep you posted.

Wind power info via Wikipedia.org

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