The recent avalanche near Montezuma (Colo.) has fueled a media sensation. The video of Meesh Hytner–captured by Tyler Malay and posted on our website–went viral. It has been viewed nearly 700,000 times on Youtube, been featured on CNN, Fox News, multiple local and international outlets, and has been seen in Japan, Taiwan and Germany, to name a few. It’s crazy! We just returned from ISPO (our major tradeshow in Munich, Germany) and walked into a media frenzy.
We normally do not feel compelled to make a statement where accidents and the use of our equipment is involved. But given the viral nature fueled by this stunning and vivid footage, we want to take the opportunity to make our position clear and perhaps help others better frame in their own minds the events that happened that day.
Risk and reward are everything in the backcountry. At BCA, we are focused on improving both enjoyment and safety in the backcountry by providing options for how people manage these two almighty human factors.
Some of our new customers continue their current approach to the backcountry while using our equipment to increase their margin of safety, holding reward constant while lowering risk. Others will use this same equipment to mitigate risk while accessing bigger lines in more hazardous conditions, hence increasing reward while keeping risk constant. Both of these scenarios exemplify very personal and complex choices made by our customers. And while we believe education is paramount for people to make informed decisions, we at BCA are not in the business of judging one person’s approach as better than the other–nor are we in the business of deciding what levels of risk are acceptable for others.
The bottom line is that education is the foundation for all of this. As we make these decisions on risk vs. reward, the more we know about the mountains and ourselves, the better we can walk this line. BCA’s belief in this is demonstrated by our strong commitment to education; we invest as much into this as we do in advertising. Taking avi courses, working with local guides, and skiing with experienced friends are just a few of the great ways to safely learn to access the backcountry–and we generally have taken this approach ourselves instead of using our safety equipment to justify additional risks. While we hope this sets a good example, we decline to judge others that take the more aggressive approach.
While we write this in the wake of a widely publicized avalanche, it’s the countless unreported stories of great times in spectacular locations skiing, riding or sledding with friends that’s the true stoke that is fueling our passion and industry. These are the moments that we truly value—but which will unfortunately never go “viral.”
Bruce McGowan, President
Bruce Edgerly, Vice President
Brian Ciciora, Director of Product Development