9 – Beyond Bros

| February 24, 2012

Part 9 in 10 of my personal avalanche avoidance theories.

Bro’ing down in the mountains with your buddies is a big part of what makes backcountry skiing so fun. There’s an intensity that comes from trusting your friends to rescue you if things go wrong (and vice versa) that leads to strong relationships, which may, or may not extend beyond the mountains. It’s common to exchange dialog along the lines of “I’m okay with skiing this. Are you?” while skiing with your partners, but it actually extends way beyond this circle.

After spending hours on the skin track with a buddy and hearing about his family and friends, the worst place to actually meet them in person for the first time is at his funeral. “Oh, you’re Steve’s mom. He talked about you all the time. It’s great to finally meet you. I’m so sorry.” At that point skiing looks incredibly stupid and you’d do just about anything to turn the clock back.

The aftermath of a dual fatality accident.  Avalanches happen quickly, but their effects last a lifetime.

Even if a certain amount of risk is acceptable between you and your partner(s), think outside of that circle and consider the bigger picture of family and friends. If you truly care about your brohams, you’ll care about their families as well, who may not be okay with the idea of dying doing what you love.

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Category: 07 Avalanche Avoidance

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (2)

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  1. andrew says:

    Great point very well said. Thanks.

  2. Nick says:

    Good post Andrew. After losing six friends in six years, including one in the recent slide in Washington, this has really started to hit home. What for me started as just being a fun activity (climbing and backcountry skiing) many years ago has over time evolved into something profoundly important in my life and likely one of the central aspects of who I am. I think this shift in thinking has come in part from the loss of many people that I care about, which inevitably results in some serious soul searching and the question “why do I do this?”. Every time I ask this I come to the same conclusion, and my resolve grows stronger to spend a life in the mountains. For me at least it has also driven me to educate myself as thoroughly as I can in safe travel, rescue, and snow study. And it has made me realize the importance, value, and brotherhood of the people that we participate with.

    I once thought nothing of going out to climb or ski with someone that I hardly knew, but over time have come to value the partners that I have and what we each bring to the table. Maybe it is just (hopefully) growing beyond adolescent tendencies, but I really have noticed a change in the recent years to seeing my partners not only for who they are, but for the people in their lives as well. I know I have backed out of skiing something that I would not have thought twice about 5 years ago because an accident could have taken someone’s husband, father, or son away from them. Finding the balance between risk and safety is something that I continue to strive towards, but for me asking “who else will suffer here if I, or my partner, is lost on this adventure?” has become a big question that I ask myself when my logical brain and not so logical desire intersect.

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