Last Tuesday a Colorado man survived a medium sized Colorado avalanche near Loveland Pass. Subsequent news reports did some heavy breathing over the incident — there must have been a news vacuum at the time.
Much to the disappointment of myself and several blog readers who’ve contacted me, an article published in our Colorado Mountain News Media newspapers (such as Glenwood Post) implied, no, stated in their headline that “knowledge was key for avalanche survivor.” This in the face of the fact that the victim and his partner did not carry beacons or shovels, did little to no hazard assessment, had virtually no avalanche safety training (I’m assuming) and made their lack of knowledge obvious by getting involved in an avalanche in the first place.
Just as most of us have probably felt after making an avalanche judgment mistake, we’re trusting that victim Alec Meyer is feeling quite schooled by now, and knows that luck rather than knowledge was the key to his survival. The article quotes him saying he’s got a beacon and shovel on order, and is signed up for an avalanche safety course. We wish him the best.
Nope, this isn’t about Mr. Meyer. Instead, what we’re railing on is how incredibly bad the above mentioned newspaper article was. Indeed, if you’ve ever wondered why Colorado Mountain News Media has to give their papers away rather than selling them, here we have a terrific example. Just check out these excerpts from the article:
“Knowledge was key.” — Actually, quite the opposite.
“Snowboarder rides/swim way out of…slide.” — Perhaps a bit, but mostly, you ride and swim out of avalanches in your dreams.
“I hate to be an example of the lucky one, but I hope it helps other people out.” — How, by making others think they can get lucky too?
“The whole reason he survived was his brain.” Nope, mostly luck.
As you’ll see when you read it, the article does include the obligatory public service safety section, but only after the above does a good job of misinforming those who know little or nothing about avalanche safety.
And of course, the obligatory blog.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.