Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2014 is filled with good luck and incredible powder days for all of you.
Before we get too far into the year let’s take a moment and remember the 75+ brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers and friends that passed away in avalanche accidents around the world last season. These were all incredible people who were taken from our lives too soon. No doubt we’ll cherish their memories and find a glimmer of light in the fact that they died doing something that they loved to do.
Sad to report that Winter 2013-2014 has already proven to be just as deadly around the world. Approximately 27 people have died in avalanches so far this winter including 14 in Europe, 7 in Japan, 5 in the United States and 1 in Canada. Without knowing the details behind all of these recent accidents, the only common thread that can be linked between the incidents is that somewhere in each sequence of events a critical terrain selection mistake was made. These fallen friends made the decision to shred the wrong slope on the wrong day.
Skier Amie Engerbretson about to get buried in an avalanche in Utah on Dec 9, 2013. She was rescued and escaped injury. Photo by Utah Avy Center.
There’s no more powerful avalanche awareness lesson than learning from the mistakes of others. Understanding the decisions that were made in the run up to an accident provides valuable perspective that can be used as another brick in the foundation of knowledge that will help you make safe decisions. Learning about recent accidents in your region is especially important as the reports discuss the snow layers you will be shredding all winter.
Two recent avy incidents in the United States worth hearing about are the Dec 26th accident on Pucker Face in Jackson Hole that killed one skier and the Dec. 9th avalanche in Little Cottonwood, Utah that buried (but did not kill) pro skier Amie Engerbretson. People involved in both accidents have released very informative first-hand reports.
Slide path in Dec 9th Little Cottonwood avalanche accident. Photo by Utah Avy Center.
You can find other accident reports here:
Learn from these mistakes and ride to live another day!