Certain studies of North American avalanche accident statistics: if you backcountry ski with women in your group, you’re more likely to get killed in an avalanche (if you’re a man). I guess it’s the ultimate result of the testosterone factor — men get around women and they tend to get stupid, or something like that. As presented in the article the idea of a “femfactor” in avalanche safety makes sense, and leads to some interesting conclusions.
Since men are the predominant participants in North American backcountry skiing, and the vast majority of ski groups are all male, one wonders what will happen to avalanche safety numbers as more and more women participate. In other words, say 10% of the groups going out these days are mixed gender, and over the next several years that grows to 80% — does that mean the number of avalanche deaths will increase 70% ? Or will men learn to mellow out when babes are nearby?
Perhaps retailers should start selling avalanche beacons bundled with a bottle of estrogen pills, then us X chromosome challenged humans could pop a few tabs before that mixed gender trip, for an extra margin of safety.
If you’re married, just wait till your wife learns about this. Soon you’ll be hearing a rattling sound coming from the kitchen while you’re getting ready for a backcountry ski trip, and your sweetie saying, “did you take your estrogen pills yet, honey? I’m heading out with you today and I don’t want the femfactor getting you hurt…”
The next thing you know a certain well known expert will be reviewing estrogen pills for Gear Trends Magazine, and we’ll be testing different flavored chews at the Outdoor Retailer trade show. I can already see the mega-thread title at the current popular online discussion groups: “Got longer avy probe, do I need estro now?”
(In all seriousness, we wonder at the real meaning of all this. For starters, there’s causation vs. corrrelation. More, touring groups in Europe tend to include plenty of women, quite often half the group or more. We’d thus like to see this type of analysis extended to the European demographic, for a reality check.)
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.