The free 2022-23 BRASS 101 program is an excellent snow safety refresher before the upcoming season. It is all new, featuring the updated Know Before You Go program, premiered in October, 2022. It contains all new videos and innovative teaching tools to help students better understand the hidden dangers present in the backcountry.
BRASS 101 is a simple online webinar that is ideal as an introduction to avalanche safety education or as a pre-season refresher. It’s core is built around the highly-acclaimed Know Before You Go program, supplemented with content focusing on the human factors of decision-making. The program is perfect for any skier or snowboarder, but also specifically addresses competitive skiers and riders who may venture into the backcountry.
It also showcases a BRASS Avalanche exclusive with psychologist and snow safety consultant Jess Shade on the human factors of decision making. BRASS looks at this area as one of the most critical for everyday skiers and riders. The 2015 accident that took the lives of Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack came down to very simple decision-making that led to a tragic outcome.
BRASS 101 Program Outline
- Free 90-minute online webinar
- Presented by certified avalanche safety instructors from around America
- Introduction to avalanche safety featuring all new Know Before You Go content
- Q&A with instructor
- Guest athletes
- Showing of acclaimed BRASS film Off Piste
BRASS 101 Presenters
BRASS Avalanche is proud to present its 2022-23 BRASS 101 educators. Each of the BRASS 101 presenters brings a great depth of experience in snow safety and is an experienced educator. As educators, they are experienced in presenting information in a manner to help students maximize their retention. As snow safety professionals, they have firsthand experience in the field. Thanks to each of our BRASS 101 presenters for dedicating their time to helping others enjoy the backcountry safely.
A past president of the American Avalanche Association, Dale Atkins is a highly-respected snow safety professional with over four decades of experience. His career has included longtime work as a ski patrol, along with forecasting for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and as a technology leader for RECCO. He spent his entire career working in the mountains using his knowledge as a snow scientist and overseeing challenging mountain rescues. His passion for saving lives served as important counsel in the early formation of BRASS, as the families sought a direction to bring education to others.
Now in his third season as a BRASS Avalanche educator, Ben Mirkin is an associate professor of Outdoor Education, Leadership, and Tourism at Northern Vermont University – and an experienced snow safety educator. He is an avid backcountry skier, mountain biker and climber, guiding both on rock and ice, as well as snow. Ben has spent his career in outdoor education combining his personal passions with helping others enjoy adventures while mitigating risk. He has been an important educator for BRASS Avalanche to help highlight the importance of snow safety – especially in the eastern USA..
Lel Tone is a legend in snow safety, both at her home mountain of Palisades Tahoe and in the alpine ranges of Alaska. At Palisades Tahoe, she is a veteran patrol member who helps lead the mountain’s snow safety efforts. In Alaska, she has worked for years as a heli guide with Chugach Powder Guides and Tordrillo Mountain Lodge. She is a certified AIARE avalanche safety instructor and co-founder of the SAFE-AS avalanche safety workshops for women. In 2014, Outside Magazine recognized her as one of the top 10 mountain guides in the world. BRASS Avalanche welcomes her as a new BRASS 101 presenter.
BRASS 101 Behind the Scenes
A team of individuals behind the scenes, many individuals or partner organizations, have helped make BRASS 101 a reality — free on line pre-season snow safety education presented by knowledgable professionals.
When tragedy struck in 2015, the families of Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack were changed forever. Amidst their grief, they formed BRASS Avalanche to provide a message of snow safety to millions. Cindy Berlack, mother of Ronnie, has been a catalyst to engage BRASS with the international snow safety community. She was a pioneer of BRASS 101, presenting local clinics at first and now a global online program that remains free. A collegiate ski racer at Middlebury in the alpine and nordic, she remains an active masters racer. She serves as president of BRASS, and continues to be its guiding light, advocating for snow safety.
A Massachusetts native, Lindsay Mann was a passionate ski racer, helping Dartmouth College win an NCAA title in 2007. She took that passion to the big mountains of the west, developing skills as a mountain guide and a snow safety professional. In 2018, as mountain awareness program coordinator for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, she pioneered an innovative program designed to build mountain and snow safety knowledge. Mann was an early advocate for BRASS, presenting safety presentations to U.S. Ski & Snowboard staff and helping BRASS build its educational programs.
Utah Avalanche Center
In the early days after the 2015 accident, the Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) stepped up to offer its support. Known as one of the most technically advanced centers in development of educational materials, UAC produced the BRASS film Off Piste: Danger in the Alps, which premiered in 2018 and has been seen by over a million persons. UAC continues to partner with BRASS in making its highly-acclaimed Know Before You Go (KBYG) program available as the core component of BRASS 101. A completely new KBYG program was debuted in October 2022 and will be an essential element of BRASS 101.
An avid high-altitude ski mountaineer, climber, and mental health therapist, Jess Shade knows the importance of decision-making. In her Utah-based clinical mental health practice, she works with high performance athletes as well as those suffering from trauma in the mountains. Jess has trained in snow safety at the National Outdoor Leadership School and the American Avalanche Institute. She has skied and climbed in the great ranges on three continents. In 2021, she became only the second woman to ski Mt. Manaslu in the Nepali Himalaya.
A professional communicator his entire career, Tom Kelly served as spokesperson for U.S. Ski & Snowboard for 30+ years, retiring in 2018. He was on the front line for the U.S. Ski Team at the time of the 2015 avalanche, helping tell the story of Bryce and Ronnie in a sensitive way. Now in a private communications counseling practice, Kelly continues to serve BRASS Avalanche, managing its communications and moderating BRASS 101 and other webinars to spread the message on the importance of snow safety. He remains an enthusiastic skier – both lift-served and backcountry – from his home in Park City, Utah.
Since its release in 2018, Off Piste: Tragedy in the Alps has been seen by over a million viewers. Produced by the Utah Avalanche Center in partnership with BRASS Avalanche, the 13-minute film documents the 2015 avalanche providing both the deep emotion of the tragedy as well as providing invaluable education to the next generation on how it could easily have been avoided.
As a tradition, each BRASS 101 webinar closes with a showing of Off Piste.