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Mar 12 2015

Engaging novice BC Skiers on Safety

There’s nothing safe about backcountry skiing. That word shouldn’t be associated with the sport
— Kim Miller, President Scarpa USA

Kim Miller of Scarpa.

Kim Miller of Scarpa.

This is the fifth video in our series covering a panel of industry experts discussing avalanche risk in backcountry skiing and the industry’s part in that, hosted at Outdoor Retail Winter by Verde PR.

In today’s clip, Scarpa’s Kim Miller talks about engaging new snowsport enthusiasts in a backcountry safety, through in-bound uphill skiing for safe education and through communication with new backcountry skiers.

Miller looks back to the influx of new climbers when sport climbing made rock climbing “safer,” drawing parallels to the current influx of new backcountry skiers.

He said at the time they realized one of the best places for new climbers to learn is at an indoor climbing gym, and, likewise, uphill skiing at resorts (that allow it) is a good introduction for learning the basics of backcountry skiing.

“That’s just the beginning of the story,” Miller said. “There’s nothing safe about backcountry skiing. That word shouldn’t be associated with the sport … The first thing you need to do is educate yourself to those risks.”

While people who have spent a lot of time backcountry skiing understand that, he said, we have to understand new skiers need help in understanding protocols, tools and risk.

“It’s not about the gear we’re using, that’s a secondary kind of point.” Miller said. “We have to learn the protocols and understand the inherent risks we’re exposing our self to … we can’t assume that just because we put on all this amazing gear now that we’re – quote – safe.”

He said an analogy is an airbag in your car – if you have to use it, something has gone wrong.

© 2015

  • hafjell

    Good stuff. I went uphill at Cannon last month. This is a low-frills, NH resort. Bode Miller grew up there. Much fewer resources than some of the other resorts on 93 and in the Mt. Washington Valley. They have started an uphill trail (not the first, I realize). I wondered, as I skinned up past downhillers whizzing by in passable control, why doesn’t every resort cut a trail uphill, for uphill only? How cool would it be to skin up, worry-free, to the summit? It would de-stress the patrollers and the folks in the front office who are petrified of an uphill accident.