Grateful Observation; This seems to be the year of taking Avy Danger seriously. Through the unhappy confluence of early snow fatalities and new developments in the advocacy community, I was inspired to post a ‘throwback Thursday’ image on my facebook page from a mid-2000’s hike in the San Gabriels with friends including one of the strongest backcountry winter partners ever, Chris Allport.
Chris was buried in an avalanche in the San Gabriel Mountains off the backside of Mountain High Ski Resort 6 years ago. Chris was an expert outdoorsman, with whom I had climbed and skied with in the Sierra and local mountains of southern California many times. Since we climbed, skied the backcountry and played music together, I felt like I lost three friends in a day that January day. I think of him often, and applaud anything resembling innovation when it comes to avy safety gear and methodology.
I got excited last year when I first heard of Project Zero, a cooperative effort in North America modeled after a Swedish road safety initiative called Vision Zero to minimize road fatalities. Centered around AIARE, the leading education platform for backcountry winter safety here in the US, the multi-pronged business/government/consumer education program has two new elements coming to life this 2014-15 season.
The first initiative is a ‘Business Of Backcountry Forum 2.0’ that follows up the panel presentations at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2014 and an initial session at SIA. This online resource is being produced as we ‘speak’ by Verde PR, Kristin Carpenter Ogden’s firm who does public relations for some of the hottest backcountry winter sports brands (K2, Backcountry Access, G3, Scarpa, and others), and is targeted to those who sell the gear and the training for backcountry wintersports. If you haven’t registered to access this FREE material, go here
The second initiative rising in the marketplace is a Project Zero marketing campaign purportedly being launched at SIA, involving brands, hang tags and point-of-purchase information targeted to consumers directly. From SNEWS in March, the initiative here is driven by the fact that 70% of backcountry gear is being purchased online, with little opportunity for a conversation about safety protocol and current methodology.
I’m excited for these additions to the safety quiver of North American backcountry skiers and the brands that keep innovating safety gear for the purpose. On with the quest for Zero!