U.S. Ski Team development athletes Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle died in an avalanche near their European training base of Soelden in the Austrian Alps on Monday. Berlack, 20, of Franconia, N.H., and Astle, 19, of Sandy, Utah, were freeskiing off piste with four others when the accident occurred. The Tirol regional avalanche warning service has released new details surrounding the accident.
Brint Markle was living in Zurich, Switzerland in 2010 when he had a major wakeup call. The Philadelphia native was working overseas as a management consultant and skiing at Verbier, as he often did, when one of his friends was caught and partially buried in an avalanche on the backside of Mont Fort.
Yesterday, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Black Diamond Equipment issued a voluntary recall on their Whippet and Carbon Whippet self arrest ski poles. The models, produced between May 1, 2013 and January 15, 2014, feature a notched, polished, stainless steel tip that has been found to break under certain circumstances, though, according to the CPSC, no injuries have been reported.
In the November 2014 issue, Editor Tyler Cohen explores the recent boom in tech bindings that have an increased focus on safety—and DIN certification. While researching this story, he posed several questions to four leaders in the binding industry, Fritz Barthel, the inventor of the Low Tech system, Edwin Lehner, lead binding designer with Dynafit, Jeff Campbell, a PhD candidate studying binding mechanics, and Dr. Irving Scher, chairman of the American Society for Testing and Materials’ International Snow Skiing Committee. Here’s what they had to say.
Jeffery Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, is a monthly columnist for Backcountry. Each week, Biff provides anecdotes about some of our favorite things: beer, sex and skiing. He can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. Reach Biff at firstname.lastname@example.org. For signed copies of his book, “Steep, Deep and […]
“I obviously knew there was going to be a bunch of obstacles I’d have to overcome,” Vasu Sojitra says about backcountry skiing. Sojitra, profiled the latest edit from T-Bar Films, had his right leg amputated at nine months old. But that hasn’t stopped him from backcountry skiing. Or from starring in this inspiring edit that was a finalist at the Banff Mountain Film Festival and a winner in the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival.
“We’re really just trying to understand the fundamental process that causes a slope to fail in an avalanche in the first place,” says Tony Lebaron, a PhD Candidate in Applied Mechanics at Montana State University, Bozeman. “No one really knows what happens at a microstructural level.” So at MSU’s subzero lab, Lebaron and David Walters, another PhD candidate, are constructing avalanches in hyper-controlled environments to analyze propagation and microstructure. “In the lab here, we can see everything that’s happen,” Walters says, “We really see the whole story.”
As wet snow fell at high elevations last night, the vibe inside Rochester, Vt.’s Pierce Hall Community Center was of exciting things to come. The evening marked the second-annual meeting of the Vermont Backcountry Forum, hosted by the Catamount Trail Association (CTA), the Vermont Backcountry Alliance (VTBC) and the Rochester Area Sports Trails Alliance (RASTA), and more than 200 skiers and riders packed the historic hall in central Vermont to talk about backcountry opportunity in the state.
It’s October, and you’ve already booked a hut week in the Monashees, a yurt trip in the Sawtooths or a weekend in the Wasatch. But how will you know what conditions will be like at, say, the end of February? And, more importantly, how can you be familiar with the snowpack and deal with avalanche conditions when you arrive in an unfamiliar backcountry zone?
Contributor Dave Dornian saw it coming back in 2001—the bike-helmet-wearing, spandex-clad, skinny-ski toting explosion. Citing races like the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse and European events sanctioned by the International Council for Ski Mountaineering Competition (ISMC), Dorian predicted a boom in ski-mountaineering racing. “The ISMC’s current five-year plan calls for an increasing number of continental and intercontinental races,” he wrote. “Meanwhile, in the North American backcountry, the though of organized competitions is about as foreign as raclette or glügwein.”