Outdoors

Why should we comment on avalanche tragedy?

A snowboarder rides past debris from a large avalanche on Blackcomb mountain in Whistler, B.C. (Associated Press)
A snowboarder rides past debris from a large avalanche on Blackcomb mountain in Whistler, B.C. (Associated Press)

WINTER SPORTS — Like other commentary's on Sunday's avalanche fatalities in the North Cascades, my column today is getting some people to think and learn.

Other readers are reacting emotionally and telling writers and the experts we quote that we have no business analyzing avalanche incidents.

The people involved in the Stevens Pass avalanche tragedy were carrying equipment and using safety techniques that were adopted after experts had investigated previous accidents.

Skiers who enjoy the backcountry will add what they learn from Sunday's incidents in the Cascades to make their next outing safer.

No one is saying they shouldn’t do it.  Objective people are saying look, understand, learn.

  • Start with this website of video avalanche tutorials.  “A Dozen More Turns” is a must see. It was made by the sister of an avalanche victim who saw the value in analyzing a tragedy so others might learn and live.
  • Subscribe to the region's avalanche advisories. They're conveniently linked from a tabs on the S-R outdoors web page.
  • View two video interviews: (1) Elyse Saugstad , who credits an avalanche airbag backpack for helping her survive the Stevens Pass avalanche, (2) KHQ-TV's Dave Cotton interviewing me on the lure of skiing backcountry.
  • Read todays New York Times story on western avalanche fatalities this season.
  • See my blog post with numerous links for more information about the Stevens Pass avalanche incident.
  • Bookmark the website for avalanche.org, for authoritative discussion and links of avalanche awareness. 



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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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