Jan 15 2015

Mike Hattrup on Industry Responsibility



Mike Hattrup, K2 Skis

Last January 2014, at the annual Outdoor Retailer Winter show Verde PR teamed up with Emerald Expo to convene a panel of industry leaders to talk about the Business of the Backcountry. The questions posed were important and I felt it was important that this seminar be shared beyond the floor of the trade show. See the first video here.

In the second video, backcountry legend Mike Hattrup is quoted back to himself, basically saying it is the job of the backcountry ski industry to promote safety through knowledge and products, and is asked – when a surfboard manufacturer doesn’t carry a warning against shark attacks – why it is the ski industries responsibility and how that can be measured.

His response was basically this — measuring the effectiveness of prevention is simply in reducing avalanche death tolls.  People see powder and tracks, not intimidating things at all to the eyes of a skier, and they don’t know any better. Technology is making it easier to ski powder and get into the backcountry, so the developers of that technology, the manufacturers, along with resorts and educators, are responsible to make those skiers more knowledgeable.

This is a timely question and his answer is an interesting one. What are your thoughts on the ski industries role in avalanche education and backcountry safety? Let us know in the comment section below.

© 2015

  • http://ThompsonPass.Com/ Matt Kinney

    Interesting analogy about his surfing experience.

    But it seems it’s not so much newbies getting caught… or they need the focus of the industry. Some experienced folks and I don’t mean anyone under 30(sorry.), are getting caught at a fairly high rate. Perhaps it’s because they have the most to prove in a tricky situation, walking the line. These are skiers with two or more decades out there. Experienced recreational and professionals are having some issues, so this really hits home to many of us on a different level. It really eats at the concept of “experience” as a critical component of dealing with avalanche terrain (i.e.,classes, courses). The trend concerns me greatly as you can imagine. It’s hard to focus on the basics of avalanche avoidance on the modern world of backcountry skiing with media hype or industry goods like airbags and ski gear. Not sure if this was addressed, but almost everyone involved in avalanche incidents are making the same mistakes as newbies.

    For the more experienced folks out there, humble yourselves and go take a
    LEVEL 2 course if you haven’t had a course in the last decade. I would also imagine there are a number of avalanche course instructors who could use some serious field time versus credentializing their way to the head of classroom by passing written test. Everyone and their mother can be a Level 2 instructor if you just take the courses along with some menial amount of actual field experience. This dilutes the pool of knowledge passed on to the next generation. My list of Level One instructors read like a who’s who in the avalanche world. Now course are a dime a dozen presented in a good faith effort to educated the masses.

    (It’s raining, not ranting)

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