Six people have died in avalanches in the United States since the snow started to fly this fall. Every year, an average of 27 people –skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, snowshoers — die this way.
For people who don’t venture into the backcountry in winter, the thought of potentially dying in an avalanche seems crazy. Why put your life on the line for a few minutes of fun?
But most of us who ride fresh powder don’t look at it that way: We don’t consider backcountry skiing a death-defying activity.
A couple of years ago, my friend Jenna Malone, who is an avalanche educator and physician assistant in Salt Lake City, told me, “I don’t know anyone who’s stood on the top of a slope and thought, ‘Well, this is going to kill me, but it’s going to be epic powder skiing.’
“We believe that with training, planning, good decision-making, and a solid ski partner who calls us on our blind spots, we can make it safer,” she added.