Black Diamond: BDTV – Episode 2: The Forecaster – Backcountry Skiing

Black Diamond: BDTV – Episode 2: The Forecaster – Backcountry Skiing


Each of us can count on one, two hands, friends and colleagues that have died in the mountains. Avalanches are a serious and significant objective hazard killing many people. And I think we do them a disservice if we forget them when we’re making decisions. I’m just following the same skin track that I put in day in, and day in, and day in over years. You have to understand the physical processes of how the snow feels under my skis and snow as it changes over time. It’s both a science and an art. It’s critical to be very careful and very particular with the ways in which you look at the snowpack the structure and the layers. A single crystal or the snow grain That tells me everything. Good morning this is Drew Hardesty with the Forrest Service Utah Avalanche here with your backcountry avalanche, and mountain weather advisory. Snow tests and collapsing are still indicating that new snow may not initially bond all that well with the preexisting snow surface from yesterday so we have a considerable avalanche danger in the backcountry. I’m conveying my findings of what the avalanche hazard is and that’s the information that I want to give to people. What they do with that information is very unique to each individual. Everyone has their own level of acceptable risk. I mean, this is the Wild West. We’ve always had this unrestricted freedom of the hills. And that’s great. There’s nothing else in the world like it. But with this freedom comes responsibility. We don’t make decisions like we think we make them. We don’t make them rationally. In many cases, we make them emotionally. But we’re not in the backcountry alone anymore. The consequences are not assumed by you alone but by the community at large. The unconscious mind does not know death. Nobody that goes out into the alpine expects to trigger an avalanche that’s going to cross the road below, knocking the school bus full of kids off. Nobody expects to do these things. And so it’s by shaping this and by changing that mindset and awareness that it can happen to me. That may save lives.

12 thoughts on “Black Diamond: BDTV – Episode 2: The Forecaster – Backcountry Skiing

  1. Great message. Be mindful of your own safety as well as the safety of everyone else around you, especially in the backcountry. When I started snowboarding in the 80s, that's where we'd go, right there where you filmed this. Superior, Flagstaff, Grizzly Gulch – and other areas in the Wasatch. We never had any avy gear, but I remember when one of my friends bought a beacon. We always called the avalanche report, and sometimes we'd just stick to the lower slopes if it was sketchy, but we were still young and stupid and I'm just grateful none of us ever got buried or caused a slide. Going up was an emotional decision for sure, not a logical one, and it still is (whenever I get the chance – I don't live near real mountains any more, but it's in my blood and I miss it like crazy – watching this video was almost painful). You spend a couple hours climbing up, followed by a few minutes floating back down over the powder. There's nothing like it, and the only reason we do it is because those emotions make it worth the risk – we just try to minimize the risk as much as possible. There are definitely more people in the backcountry these days, and that's generally a good thing, I think, because it means people are spending time in the mountains instead of staring at a screen. But I have to admit, it also means there are more tracks, and the draw of being the first one to make tracks or having more solitude up there might make me more willing to take risks (though I'm one of the most risk-averse people I know). If I ever meet Drew, I'd like to shake his hand and buy him a round of whatever he's drinking. At the very least, I'll keep my eyes peeled for a bearded skier thumbing a ride back down the canyon.

  2. Every time I watch this video it resonates with my soul. I've always been around the ski industry, I worked at outdoor shops through college and still do part time. It started with my dad, he was a volunteer Patroller for Mt. Hood resorts during my growing up years. He started as patroller when he was in College; Patrolled at Mt. Ashland, Mammoth, Big Bear, Mt. Hood, and now at Sugar mountain in NC. When I told him that I wanted to start getting into the backcountry he bought me a book and said take a AVI 1 class listen to the forecasters report and listen to your gut. I have yet to take an Avi class, but I won't be going out into the backcountry until I've done so. It's because I have a huge amount of respect for the men an women who spend a life accruing this knowledge.

  3. Regardless of where this guy is from. And according to some in this thread it is an issue to them. This guy gets it. I have been working in avalanche terrain for 26 years in Western Canada. I have come to accept the fact I know nothing of avalanches. But I do have a knowledge and control over my choices and my decisions in the mountains. That is what brings me home to my family day in day out. Keep studing snow craft, but also practice the decision making process too.

  4. Thanks for the message! But, I always wonder, why anybody isn't uploading videos of how to prevent from avalanches? It can save lives while enjoying the mountains, my uncle died of an avalanche. It's kind of a bummer that this kind of professionals keep their secrets just for them in order to get an income out of it..

  5. This is so incredibly well done, is there somewhere we can geek out on all the tech specs from production???

  6. What are the three books on his desk at 2:36 ? I see Moby Dick, and Blood Meridian, but I can’t see the middle one and I’m curious!

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