Backcountry Access to present at the “Business of the Backcountry” seminar at SIA on January 31, 2013

Posted on January 30th, 2013 by | 0 Comments

THE “BUSINESS OF THE BACKCOUNTRY” SEMINAR SERIES AT SIA JANUARY 31, 2013Join BCA at a special seminar at SIA 2013 entitled “The Business of the Backcountry,” hosted by Verde PR.  The seminar will be on January 31, at 1:30 pm, on the trade show floor within the Backcountry Experience Area, booth #4571.

The “Business of the Backcountry” panel marks the first time that perspectives and conversation regarding backcountry safety and its tie to our sustainability as an industry has been formally discussed and dissected.  “Business of the Backcountry” Panelists include: Jones Snowboards and POW founder Jeremy Jones, Julbo eyewear athlete and legendary freeskier Glen Plake, ESPN.com freeskiing editor Megan Michelson, Backcountry.com Director of Merchandising, Hud Knight, VP at Backcountry Access, Bruce Edgerly, Ethan Greene, Director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and Ethan Mueller, General Manager of Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

The outdoor and snowsports industries will see an exponential leap in both innovation in and availability of, winter safety equipment at this month’s Outdoor Retailer and SIA shows.  Just this month, K2 Sports purchased BCA; last year, Black Diamond and Mammut made investments in snow-safety companies; and TNF, Burton and other leading brands are rolling out air-bag equipped packs for 2013.

Product innovation and the unprecedented access that backcountry are available to skiers and riders, of all ability levels, more so than ever before. The outdoor and snowsports industries are very aware that it’s high time to implement a more proactive approach to consumer education regarding safety in winter backcountry travel.

According to a 2013 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market gear primer written by David Clucas of SNEWS, the influx of new backcountry safety gear is powered by two factors:

  1. An increase in the sales of alpine touring gear
  2. More awareness of airbag-equipped packs stemming from widespread coverage in the mainstream media on recent avalanches and survivors who lived because of these airbag packs

Fittingly, it seems, a perfect storm has emerged with awareness and product demand stemming from that awareness. The result? Air-bag wars, according to Wild Snow blogger, Lou Dawson.

WildSnow reports that there are two product approaches in 2013 that address the “avalanche problem.”

  1. Provide air to the otherwise suffocating buried victim
  2. Prevent burial in the first place

“Basically, the whole avalanche safety issue has boiled down to human nature,” Dawson reports. “Skiers will ski avalanche slopes, and some of us will ignore, forget, or perhaps never even learn how to play that game with reasonable safety. Thus, we need a backup plan.”

Today’s gear, he indicates, is designed to do just that.

“Beacons, having achieved an almost supernatural status in the pantheon of avalanche safety gear, have proved disappointing in real life. Fact is, if you’re buried in a slide you stand a pretty good chance of being dug up dead, no matter how many extra features your beacon has.”

Thus, gear that prevents burial (such as the airbag packs) comprises the bulk of the innovation in the winter safety gear category.

Bruce Edgerly, co-founder of BCA

Bruce Edgerly, co-founder of BCA

Bruce Edgerly, co-founder of BCA and “Business of the Backcountry” panelist, believes strongly that there’s a gap that must be closed between the new safety gear on the market, such as the company’s Float packs, and the self education that must exist with the user of these products. Learning how to make solid decisions around staying safe in the backcountry should be prioritized by our industries, he said.

“BCA takes pride in championing of backcountry safety and avalanche awareness and education,”Edgerly said.

The fact that BCA retailers must be licensed to refill the cartridges in the avie packs for their customers, is just one example of a retailer and manufacturer working together to create more consumer awareness on how to use winter safety equipment.

The industry, collectively, must create awareness and education opportunities for retailers and the end consumer around skiing and riding safely in the backcountry. From snow science, to gear-usage to product marketing efforts to athletes – all must be aligned on this issue, it is, as we’ve all seen too many times, a life and death situation.

Where do we start? How can we work together to amplify our reach?

These are all points that will be addressed at the Snow Industries Association’s “Business of the Backcountry” panel.