November 27, 2015

Of Avalances, Machismo, and Derring-Do

Local search-and-rescue groups on Facebook are all cross-posting this Denver Post article: "Ignorance and Early-Season Avalanche Danger."

The author, columnist Steve Lipsher, writes,
Each year, it seems, the reckless streak grows bolder among Colorado skiers and snowboarders, eager to show off their GoPro videos on YouTube and earn bragging rights among their friends.
And each year, on average, six or seven of them will die in avalanches.
He is not sold on the latest gadgets:
[Other backcountry snow enthusiasts] carry specialized equipment designed to help them breathe in a burial or inflate giant airbags instantly to help them stay on top of an avalanche, falsely thinking that replaces good decisions or adequately protects them.
The SAR groups will still have work to do. Humans are hard-wired for risk. I am all for education on avalanche-awareness, but education will never reach them all.

3 comments:

Darrell said...

I was once skiing in the backcountry, high about Leadville in the Mosquito Range, a bit above timberline. I was skiing alone, itself a big no no... it was a heavy snow winter. I was skiing into a bowl, as I went I looked at the slopes ringing it--the snow was hanging over everything, looking like it could let go at any time. I was rather nervous, but kept going up in the floor of the bowl. Suddenly the ground erupted all around me, with a very loud roaring noise. I closed my eyes and said to myself, "Well, here it comes, goodbye world". After a few seconds I noted that I was still alive and upright. I opened my eyes and saw that I had skied right into the midst of a flock of ptarmigan, they were in their winter colors, of course, and pretty much invisible on the ground. The sound was the popping and roaring of their wings as they all took flight around me. I like to crapped my pants. I figured it was time to turn around and go home, and I did.

Darrell said...

PS That should read "above Leadville". Sorry!

Chas Clifton said...

That's absolutely classic!