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A Backcountry Skier's Death Yields Safety Reminders from Rescue Team

From Stowe Mountain Rescue - Feb. 21.

Last night Stowe Mountain Rescue was involved in the search and recovery of a young man who died in a tragic skiing accident in backcountry terrain, accessed from Stowe Mountain Resort.

As skiers ourselves, we understand the draw to explore the backcountry and we’re devastated at the senseless loss of such a beautiful, adventurous young life.

The only thing we can do here is to try to avoid this happening again. So, with apologies for preaching, please note the following:

When you ski in the backcountry you’re facing an entirely different level of risk than resort skiing. There are multiple hazards, from unexpected cliff bands to hidden rocks, potential snow slides and deadly tree wells. Honestly, there is little that can be done to mitigate these hazards, even for expert skiers. Having said that, there are some underlying rules that should ALWAYS be followed:

1/ Only ski terrain you’re familiar with. Go with someone who knows where the cliffs are. Hire a reputable guide if necessary. Don’t ski alone! Not that having a partner can prevent catastrophe, but it might just save you in the case of serious injury.

2/ Tell someone your plans - your intended route and anticipated timeline.

]3/ Be equipped to effect your own rescue or survive while you await help. This means carry a first aid kit, protection from the elements, high energy food and water, spare phone battery, headlamps and maybe a fire starting kit. Cumbersome, but important: it might take us a couple of hours to reach you - and hypothermia won’t wait.

4/ Don’t hesitate to reach out for help…before you need it. Dial 911, which gives us your location, and be put in touch with our team. We can help steer you in the right direction and start moving towards you if it seems like you’ll need a rescue.

Let’s honor the life of this young man by following and sharing these principles. It won’t prevent all tragedies but might prevent some.

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