Risk Reflection: Teaching avalanche education through Vermont’s pandemic restrictions

On a snowy January weekend, I took my AIARE Level 1 course with Petra Cliffs’ co-owner Steve Charest, who has been an AIARE course provider since 2009. Local Covid restrictions made this year’s courses different from any others Charest has taught over the past decade, and Charest’s Vermont-based courses were unlike others in the country. Throughout the winter, the state had some of the most restrictive regulations in the country.

Summer Storage: Maintain Your Beacon, Shovel, Probe and Airbag in the Off Season

Most tips for summer storage serve as practical time-savers: clean, waterproofed gear and waxed skis make it that much quicker to get on the skintrack when the snow starts falling again. But for beacons and avy equipment, summer storage is even more important. Proper storage, and testing equipment before heading out again, is crucial to […]

Ski Mountaineer Dies in Crevasse Fall in Alaska’s Denali National Park

On Monday, May 3, 28-year-old Mason Stansfield of Ouray, Colorado, died while skiing the Eldridge Glacier in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Stansfield was an experienced ski mountaineering and a mountain guide who had worked on Denali before.

Gearbox: Five tools for touring on high

Spring mountaineering season has arrived to the high peaks, and these tools might be your ticket to ticking off your next big line.

Tools of the Trade: When, where and how to use your ice axe, crampons and rope

Jackson, Wyoming-based internationally-certified guide Mike Poborsky has three basic considerations when planning for a day out: Is the mountain going to fall on him? Will he fall into the mountain? Could he fall off the mountain? The first question helps him avoid avalanches, while the second two dictate what he needs for technical gear, like an ice axe, crampons or rope. For those looking to step into steep couloirs, onto exposed faces or around glaciated terrain where a slip could mean falling off or into the mountain, both carrying these tools and knowing how to use them is crucial.

Free Spirit: A Tribute to Luca Pandolfi

As backcountry skiers and riders, we’re understandably keen to study avalanche fatalities, so that we may learn from them and avoid the same fate. But rarely do we analyze a life—particularly a life well-lived—with the same scrutiny. Luca Pandolfi, a 47-year-old Italian big mountain snowboarder who passed away in Italy’s Gran San Bernardo Valley on March 17, lived one such life, both on and off the hill.

Behind the Memes: Uphill Fiend share more than just jokes

Three years ago, an eight-year-old explained memes to me. I wish I’d written his definition down, because I’m sure that it was better than my own descriptions of the combinations of pictures and captions to create culturally relevant jokes. Now, in 2021, there are memes for every niche, from movies to politics to—you guessed it—backcountry skiing. In the past year, two anonymous memers under the Instagram handle Uphill Fiend have entertained us backcountry skiers and riders and now have over 10,000 followers. But the fiends have more to say than just poking fun at tele skiers and splitboarders. With ever posting, they take the time to think about how to educate the backcountry community and create a more inclusive space in the mountains.

Hunting for Wind Slab: A custom continuing ed avalanche course

In any Level 1 avalanche course, we learn about the different types of avalanches. Each is its own beast and carries its own unique challenges. Some problems hide deep in the snowpack while others live on the surface. They can be prevalent across big regions or very specific to isolated locations. Yet with such finite time in Level 1 and 2 avalanche courses, it would be cumbersome to truly dive into the nuances of each. After experiencing wind slab so vividly, I wanted to learn how to bring my avalanche knowledge to each specific avalanche problem in hopes that I could more confidently answer that important debrief question: Were we lucky or were we good?

Colorado Reports Twelfth Avalanche Fatality of the Season

A skier was killed Monday, March 22 in an avalanche outside of Colorado’s Beaver Creek Ski Area. According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), the skier was traveling below tree line in an area known as the Sanctuary Chutes—a steep, northwest-facing chute—at approximately 10,500 feet when they triggered the avalanche around 3:00 p.m. This is the 12th fatality in Colorado this season and the 35th in the United States.