U.S. Ski Team Prospects Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle killed in Austrian Avalanche


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.

Ten Bad Habits that Must Go for 2015


Some people make New Year’s resolutions focusing on diets and exercise. Others make plans on how to make the world, the backcountry skiing world included, a better place. Ski mountaineering Andrew McLean dishes on the latter.

Mountain Skills: Ilya Storm on 20 years of education, safety and snow science


Ilya Storm, 50, is the forecast coordinator for Avalanche Canada. Storm lives in Revelstoke, B.C., just down the road from Rogers Pass. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation on 20 years of education, safety and snow science.

BC Banter: Vt Resorts Embrace Uphill, Utah Revisits Rescue Protocol, TwentyTwo Designs Launches Beta Program, 10th Mountain Icon Passes Away


Two more Vermont ski areas are embracing uphill traffic. Late this month, Bolton Valley Ski Area and Sugarbush Resort released their new uphill traffic policies, joining the growing list of ski areas nationwide that welcome on-piste skinning. Bolton Valley offers two uphill routes open at all times, including during operating hours; Sugarbush’s policy is more nuanced, with specific trails open on both Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen at various times.

Mountain Skills: Managing Risk and Responsibility


On February 28, 2014, a Missoula, Mont. snowboarder launched into the Mt. Jumbo backcountry ready to carve perfect turns. Farthest from his mind was triggering a massive avalanche that would decimate two houses, bury three people and kill one. It’s a dramatic example of how someone’s actions in the backcountry can affect others.

Mountain Skills: Karl Birkeland on 20 years of education, safety and snow science


Karl Birkeland, 51, is a longtime avalanche forecaster and director of the U.S. Forest Service National Avalanche Center in Bozeman, Montana. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation on 20 years of education, safety and snow science.

Mountain Skills: Set a Plan and Stick to It


You’ve been playing it safe all day. Even though the avalanche bulletin called out “Considerable” hazard for the day (natural avalanches are possible and human-triggered are likely), you haven’t observed any signs of instability while skiing lower angled terrain in the trees. Close to where you’ve been skiing, there’s an untracked slope—and it’s only slightly […]

Nordic Extreme: From the Olympics to Aspen, XC champion Simi Hamilton makes tracks


There are those who go to Aspen for the parties and those who go for the X Games. Some visit for the foliage and others settle down for a season or two. And then there are those who made the trip decades ago, jostling and tumbling across the plains and into the Rockies. Such is the legacy of Simi Hamilton, a fourth-generation Aspenite who’s made a few treks of his own including to two Winter Olympic Games and on the Nordic World Cup circuit. But if there’s a rest day in sight, Simi would spend it on fat skis.

Backstory: Christmas Powder


I sit in a recycled ski chair on the cabin porch in Ouray, Colo., and watch giant, Christmas Eve snowflakes fall softly as I call my parents to wish them Merry Christmas. I am eager to tell my parents that I’m going backcountry skiing for the first time tomorrow. Instead, Mom reads her oncology report: cancer. In my mind tumors twinkle like Christmas lights throughout her. The conversation ends and snowflakes merge with my chilled tears.

BC Banter: Snowless on Turnagain Pass, Sentencing in Wolf Creek Avalanche Death, 22 Inches Fall in Tahoe, RASTA Glade Project Open for Comment


Warm temperatures have brought rain in place of snow so far this season at south central Alaska’s Turnagain Pass. Now, more than two weeks past the typical opening date, the Pass is closed to snowmachining due to lack of snow. Recent wet snow, followed by cool temps, has increased avalanche risk, and a December 14 storm “created the first documented weak layer of snow this season,” Chugach National Forest Avalanche director Wendy Wagner told Alaska Dispatch News.