Backcountry, Utah Avalanche Center Launch Snow Safety Education Initiative

Online specialty retailer Backcountry has partnered with Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) to provide backcountry users of all levels with accessible avalanche education resources, said the two organizations. The goal of the initiative is to make it as easy as possible for both experienced and novice backcountry users to find local experts, virtual and in-person education opportunities and specific information for their area.

“We saw a huge surge in backcountry travel last spring due to early ski resort closures. Our local areas, like Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood Canyon, were overwhelmed with the number of backcountry users, and at one point we saw 42 human-triggered avalanches in two days,” said Nicole Sumner, senior marketing manager at Backcountry and UAC board of directors secretary. “We want to make sure our customers and mountain communities are well-equipped with the skill-sets and knowledge they need to safely enter the backcountry.”

Backcountry will work with the UAC, as well as several brand partners, including Black DiamondSki UtahDakine, and Thule, to promote easy access to educational resources for all backcountry skill levels. Backcountry will host several livestreams, including a “Know Before You Go” (KBYG) presentation from the UAC, which is a simplified, basic avalanche awareness course. KBYG is ideal for entry-level users as it teaches the destructive power of avalanches, including when and how they happen and the best ways to avoid them.

The program has reached over 200,000 Utah residents since its inception in 2005, and the UAC attributes the slight decline in avalanche deaths over the last 20 years to this broad reach. According to the UAC, avalanche fatalities have not increased due to the accessibility of improved safety equipment and local avalanche forecasts, as well as more readily available avalanche education tools like KBYG.

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Backcountry will feature a “Know Before You Go” Instagram livestream on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 at 5 p.m. MDT.

“With some resorts planning to limit capacity this season, we’re expecting one of the busiest years for backcountry use we’ve ever seen,” said Chad Brackelsberg, executive director at UAC. “As such, it’s crucial that we’re adequately equipped to deliver forecasting, education and awareness for the anticipated increase in new backcountry users this winter. Working closely with partners like Backcountry will be key for reaching those new user groups and making sure they have access to avalanche safety resources.”

Backcountry will also provide detailed information on avalanche safety equipment through their “Get the Gear” web page. This page will include a “Backcountry Essentials Kit” that will outline all of the necessary gear, why you need it and how to use it. Backcountry said it aims to provide equipment that hits a range of price-points, with the goal of making safety equipment accessible for both entry-level and experienced users. It will feature a “Get the Gear” Instagram livestream on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 at 5 p.m. MDT in order share pertinent details on each item and provide a forum for questions. Finally, Backcountry will provide an assortment of “Season Tune Up” tips for the upcoming winter with educational resources on how to hone your skills and practice before the snow starts falling. They will Instagram livestream the “Season Tune Up” event on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020 at 12 p.m. MDT.

For more information on Backcountry’s avalanche safety initiatives, visit: www.backcountry.com/sc/avalanche-awareness

To access Backcountry’s livestream events, visit  www.instagram.com/backcountry on the dates listed above.