Since late January, 26 outdoor enthusiasts just like us have died in avalanches across America in 19 incidents touching nine states. It’s been one of the most deadly periods in recorded history. Nearly all were experienced backcountry enthusiasts.
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.”
There are many factors one could point to which make this year a very dangerous season. But 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. Understand the forecast. Make conservative decisions like your life depends on it. Because it does. Click the link below to learn about educational programs that can save your life.
Chairman, BRASS Avalanche Safety Foundation
P.S. If you support our cause, please consider a gift to BRASS Avalanche so that our advocacy can help spare another family from heartbreak.
Off Piste: Tragedy in the Alps
Ski racers Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack had no idea of the danger they faced when they ventured off trail with U.S. Ski Team teammates. The January, 2015 avalanche that took their lives is the heart of an emotional new educational film Off Piste: Tragedy in the Alps.
BRASS 101 is designed to educate ski and snowboard athletes about dangers outside the gates! It’s a 90-minute introductory presentation available online. Reserve a date for your club, academy or school, or watch video of this season’s presentations.
BRASS Avalanche, the Bryce and Ronnie Athlete Snow Safety Foundation (BRASS), was born out of the tragic avalanche deaths of U.S. Ski Team athletes Ronnie Berlack and Bryce Astle to create a legacy of change in the culture of avalanche education and safety in the competitive and recreational ski and snowboard community. Its mission is to advocate for greater penetration of avalanche education and to lobby for the evolution of snow safety systems.