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Lou Dawson and Skiing Avalanches: Episode 24

Posted on October 21 2016

Close calls, the wrecking crew and wild snow

Lou has been an incredible research for ski touring and backcountry travel for the national and even international community. It turns out he is also a great podcast resource as well and we had him back for the third time to start our third season! If you can sift through our introductory banter there are some good stories to be told and you might even learn something.

1972 grand traversing on skis

How long has he been at it? How about the Grand Traverse from Crested Butte to Aspen in 1972 on reindeer fur covered boots!

If you have been skiing in the big mountains as long as Lou you have had some close calls and he has made it a mission to drop some knowledge on the next generation. I have seen it many times in the comments of blog post on wildsnow.com, someone dies in an avalanche, Lou is reporting on it and someone is upset. After all, there is nothing more upsetting than having a fellow backcountry skier go down in the most horrifying and dangerous ways in the sport. With all of the education out there like the ISSW that Lou recently attended, or any of the other dozen acronyms, where knowledge is snow safety knowledge is shared, people continue to die in avalanches. But there is no question, for every one avalanche fatality there is a thousand close calls, most of which are never even felt or noticed. 

This is the perspective that Lou is writing from, but I had to ask him when is it education and when does it become exploitation? There is no question in my mind, when someone sets off a big avalanche in the backcountry, something has gone terrible wrong. Maybe they should have never skied that terrain, maybe they waited too late in the day, or maybe they should have never skied that day at all. There is no question this is easy to say retrospectively, but without looking at the details these mistakes will continue and with increasing regularity. That is the education, but the exploitation question will always come in when you are a journalist and you are covering tragedy. In the end backcountry skiing with a little education will always boil down to personal choices and risk tolerance and Lou will be the first to admit that he was at the far end of the spectrum,r ead Lou's full account of his close call here on Wildsnow. But hind sight has given him some valuable perspective and I promise he is never pointing the finger at anyone for guilt, but rather as a chance to learn and fix it before the next tragedy strikes!

skiing out of bounds is illegal

Just in case you were wondering, the quote "skiing out of bounds is illegal you know" in our opening music, comes from the movie Aspen Extreme. In 1982 Lou was living it.

Thanks for listening! Tell a friend and review us on iTunes. We have blasted by 50,000 downloads, lets take this thing to 100,000!

Owner of cripple creek bc

1 comment

  • Jamie: April 20, 2017

    Lou is from bloody New Jersey, and Texas for the love of snow, that’s why he’s had so many close calls.

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