An Unfortunate and Precarious Situation

We owe our friends at Ortovox and Pieps an apology. But first, some context.

Over a decade ago, we started our Mountain Account column as a way to help the backcountry community to learn from accidents and incidents in the mountains. We see this as an educational part of our magazine and, over the years, it has covered everything from unexpected overnights to broken gear to avalanches. Our goal is to allow our subjects a first-person opportunity to debrief an incident and pass on what they learned from a mountain misfortune.

In order to reach this goal, we run Mountain Account in an “as told by” interview style, where the subject relays their story and is able to maintain control over the messaging. Often, it’s a spoken word conveyance simply transcribed and edited for clarity. And, for years, it’s been made possible thanks to a small advertisement at the bottom of the page. That sponsor is frequently a brand that makes avalanche safety gear and, for a long time, has been Ortovox.

In our most recent issue, #138, we shared the story of Nick McNutt, who was buried in an avalanche in Pemberton, B.C., last March in which his beacon, a Pieps DSP Pro, had mistakenly turned off. The story details the incident and how, afterward, McNutt and others in his group reached out to Pieps and their sister company, Black Diamond Equipment (who distributes Pieps in North America), with their concerns that the beacon McNutt was wearing had malfunctioned.

Hours before we went to press, our editors noticed that Ortovox, a competitor, would be presented as the sponsor of this story, the subject matter of which they had no knowledge. Deeming this inappropriate, we decided to replace the Ortovox sponsorship with a non-competing brand out of respect for both Pieps and Ortovox.

Somehow, signals got crossed, as they often can do during a deadline, and the switch never happened. So, to our readers, please know this story would have run regardless of any sponsorship relationship. To our friends at Ortovox, we know you’re respected in the industry as a fair and equitable partner and competitor and would not knowingly support a story that painted another brand in a negative light.

In light of all of this, we’ve decided to no longer have sponsorship for our Mountain Account department. In an age of “sponsored content” we acknowledge how seeing a brand associated with a story of any kind might lead to confusion. And since we’ve never run content about a brand paid for by that brand, we’d hate to think our reader might somehow think we would knowingly endorse such content.

Thanks for understanding,

The Editors

Related posts: