Stories from avalanche terrain
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 20th, 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. While excitement contributed to the situation, Forrest’s immediate avalanche rescue response is an outstanding testament to the importance of avalanche training and clear communication. When seconds mattered, he made each one count to save his brother.
What are the key safety takeaways?
As Forrest demonstrated, having formal training on how to quickly search and rescue saves lives. Check that you have the Basic 4 - beacon, probe, shovel, airbag - and that they are accessible and operational. Lastly, know the forecast and look for signs of instability.