As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I remember watching Pro Ski/Snowboard movies  and fantasizing about the crazy scenes in the backcountry, thinking “Wow, I can’t wait to do that when I am older.”  Well, I am older now and I still fantasize about skiing untouched pow in the backcountry. One thing I have learned after moving out west, those ski films highlight the best parts of backcountry skiing, they often neglect to show the logistics, the planning and the safety precautions taken by the athletes to ensure everyone makes it back home.

Its 2022, we are still living in the Covid 19 era, resorts are crowded and backcountry skiing is becoming more and more popular. 2021 had the most recorded Avalanche deaths in recent history. So before venturing out on your next (or first) off-piste adventure take a few seconds and ask yourself a few questions.

Have you taken an Avalanche Safety Course?

When was the last time you practiced companion rescue?

Has your partner practiced companion rescue?

Watch as Markus Eder and his friends remind us all the importance of avalanche training. “Practice Makes Perfect” a saying we have all heard, a saying that holds true to all aspects of life and especially true for backcountry safety.

“The last thing I would want to do is go to a funeral of a friend” – Markus Eder

If you are new to backcountry skiing the first step is to attend an Avalanche Safety Course in your area. The American Avalanche Institute (AAI), AIARE and many other local certified institution offer courses all throughout the country and equip you with the knowledge and tools to travel safely. It may be a bit expensive or a hassle but you wouldn’t surf pipeline if you didn’t know how to swim? So why would you risk avalanches if you didn’t have the proper education.

If you have attended an Avy course in the past. Take a page out of Markus Eder’s playbook and go out and practice with your friends. In the unfortunate case that an avalanche does happen, you and your crew should be prepared to rescue. IF you get caught, your best source of rescue is by your buddies. Avalanche dogs are cute and all, however they are mostly used for body recovery and seldom make “live saves”. The best chance of survival is a crew that knows that they are doing and remember the basics.

Backcountry Basics 

  • Make sure you and your team have the education and training to make sound decisions
  • Bring the proper gear (Beacon, Shovel and Probe) and know how to use it
  • Check the local Avy forecast and make sound decisions based around that.
  • Make a plan and do not be afraid to change it (or quit) if you see any signs of instability (Cracking, Whoompfing, Recent Avalanche activity)

I really appreciate pro skiers and riders like Markus who highlight the importance of safety. This video does a great job of reminding us all that we NEED to get out and practice. IT COULD SAVE A LIFE.

Images from Markus Eder Youtube

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