BRASS 101 at Waterville Valley

What do you know about avalanche safety? A group of around 50 skiers spent two hours at Waterville Valley on October 24 for a workshop that could save their lives!

BRASS 101, a free, open-to-the-public avalanche safety introduction, was presented by the Bryce and Ronnie Snow Safety Foundation (BRASS), together with Waterville Valley’s BBTS Club, at the Waterville Valley Academy. The program was taught by noted avalanche educator Frank Carus, director of the Mt. Washington Avalanche Center at Tuckerman's Ravine.

“Avalanches can occur anywhere there is snow,” said BRASS Secretary Cindy Berlack, whose son Ronnie was one of two U.S. Ski Team athletes killed in 2015 by an avalanche in Austria. 

In fact, last April New Hampshire skier Nicholas Benedix died in an avalanche on Mt. Washington. Among the attendees for the BRASS 101 workshop was Gary Benedix, a Waterville Valley Academy faculty member and father of the skier killed in the avalanche. Carus, who presented the BRASS 101 program, was the lead rescuer for the tragic accident.

The two-hour introductory BRASS 101 program touched on the basics of avalanche safety with important Know Before You Go tips. The session is designed to make skiers and snowboarders aware of the dangers they could face and how to be better prepared before heading out into the backcountry.

The BRASS 101 program is available to clubs around the country and is an excellent pre-season refresher for skiers or snowboarders.

“Introductory programs like BRASS 101 are important for any skiers or snowboarders,” said Berlack, “but especially so for competitive athletes who train and compete in more stable snow conditions but may often be enticed to venture into the backcountry, like our sons, and not fully understand the dangers.”

BRASS produced a dramatic film, Off Piste, featuring a re-creation of the 2015 avalanche in Austria that took the lives of Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack. The film has been seen by over a million persons and is available free to any organizations wishing to show it.

For more information on BRASS, including details on holding a BRASS 101 workshop, contact the BRASS Foundation.

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 changes in the culture of avalanche safety. Its mission is to lobby for the evolution of snow safety systems and to advocate for greater penetration of avalanche education. It works closely with avalanche industry organizations in the USA and around the world. The BRASS Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit relying entirely on donations from passionate private and commercial supporters.

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