Raising Avalanche Awareness

Two weeks ago this past Saturday, my husband lost a friend in an avalanche. We’d talked with him that morning. He skied one valley; we went a different direction.

As we drove down the road after a day spent touring and reviewing steps for digging a snow pit – ironically I had signed up for an avalanche course the following day – we passed emergency vehicles, lights flashing. We didn’t know what had happened yet.

When we got home, there was a message on our answering machine. And it brought our world crashing down. I won’t trouble you with the inevitable emotional upheaval that followed, what I will share is a few things we’ve learned.

Digging a snow pit is one tool used in assessing snowpack stability.

We realize that we have questions that will probably never be answered, and we’ve started to accept that. We also realize that we still love the outdoors. Moving on with purpose is a positive step.

The Brooks-Range tagline is “pro gear for everyone.” I believe the same thing goes for knowledge. Professional mountain guides are experts in assessing snow packs, analyzing terrain, and planning safe travel in mountainous areas. There is no reason that you and I can’t access this knowledge as well. I’ve signed up for another avalanche course, starting next week. I’ll be sharing tidbits gleaned from the sessions over the next few weeks.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey. If you’ve taken an introductory avalanche course, or a recent refresher, or are a professional guide with knowledge to share, please chime in. We can all benefit from raising awareness.

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