Death and Skiing: Risk vs. Reward in the Backcountry
A few weeks ago we attended the Colorado Snow and Avalanche Workshop. At this annual pre-season event, professionals from around the snowsports industry present on various topics pertaining to snow and avalanche research. Think of it as a TedX but with a whole lot more beards, flannel, and approach shoes. It’s also a great opportunity to connect with other snow professionals. From presentations about snow safety education in the Middle East to breaking down the psychological causality of avalanche incidents, it was a very informative day and a great way to get us snow professionals into the winter mindset.
Just a couple of days later, we learned of the tragic events surrounding the death of renowned climber and Colorado native Hayden Kennedy and his girlfriend Inge Perkins, the season’s first avalanche victim. When I got the message from a friend that someone had died in an avalanche in the first week of October, I was pretty shocked. The juxtaposition of these two events was eye opening. I had just spent an 8-hour day listening to people talk about avalanches, looking at the destructive power of snow, and dissecting the historical data from avalanche accidents. Now it was a reality, people were already dying and we hadn’t even had a real snowfall yet. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about their terrifying story.