Since late January, there have been 22 avalanche deaths in America across 16 incidents in nine states, including many in Colorado. It’s been one of the most deadly periods in recorded history.
It is absolutely heartbreaking to see people get killed doing something they love. It makes these deaths very hard to wrap your head around. I still feel that way about our son, Ronnie Berlack, and his U.S. Ski Team teammate, Bryce Astle, who died in a 2015 avalanche on a glorious powder day in Austria. They didn’t have the avalanche forecast and they didn’t know the dangers when they wandered off piste.
I speak for both the Berlack and Astle families in expressing our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the avalanche victims. The grief is crushing. It’s long term, as we think of our children everyday and how things could have been different for them.
The one constant in avalanche deaths is decision-making. Do you understand the forecast? Do you truly feel safe to ski? Is there a plan and will you stick to it? Are you prepared to encounter others who may impact your safety?
If you want to venture into the backcountry, do it safely. Get the education you need. You’ll find an education index at our website: brassavalanche.org. Understand the forecast.
Make conservative decisions like your life depends on it. Because it does. Be safe.
Steve BerlackPark City, UtahEditor’s note: Steve Berlack is chairman of the BRASS Avalanche Safety Foundation.