In the mountains, every decision matters and every avalanche has a lesson. As a community of snow enthusiasts, we can use these stories to learn how to be safer going forward. Excitement keeps us exploring, but phenomena like “powder panic” and “summit fever” can cause us to be blinded by good vibes and adrenaline, overlooking vital safety basics. Sharing the intimate details of incidents where this played a role gives us the opportunity to examine and reflect so we can try to avoid them in the future.
On March 20, 2021, Swiss freeriders, Forrest and Lake Schorderet, were ecstatic to wake up to powder after a two-month long dry spell in the Alps. What should have been a perfect day ended in an avalanche, with Lake fully buried. Hear what happened and how this incident further evolved their snow-safety attitude.
Key Takeaways: Excitement can cause us to overlook vital avalanche safety basics. Even if it’s a blue-bird day with fresh powder, take the extra time at home to ensure you’ve packed everything in your avalanche safety kit and know the day’s forecast, as well as the season’s snow-pack stability. Once on-hill, double-check your gear is accessible and operational and dig pits for each aspect throughout the day. Don’t know how to do that? No problem – take a course – https://www.mammutalpineschool.com/en/avalanche-training/
Conditions will change as temperatures rise, so it is important to get an early start. Be aware that what may have been safe in the morning, might not be by lunchtime. Finally, make sure there is sufficient space and time between you and your partners when you drop. More weight on the snowpack increases the likelihood of an avalanche and if a slide were to occur, there would be a higher chance of multiple people being buried if everyone is close together. Channel your excitement to check all the boxes so you have an amazing and safe day.