BCA’s Most Viral Backcountry Ski & Sled Posts of 2016

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The Backcountry Access community shared reactions and comments in record numbers in 2016.  Social media is invaluable for sharing backcountry ski and snowmobile stories and opinions, and for learning from the avalanche incidents and experiences of others.

Here is a review of the top organic viral Backcountry Access Facebook posts for 2016 – from serious to lighthearted.

BCA’s Most Viral Backcountry Skiing Posts of 2016

#1. SKI CUT SLOPE A ‘DEFENSIVE’ MOVE – WATCH VIDEO


A skier captured the moment he triggered an avalanche after cutting into the slope, exposed bare ground. The incident happened when the man was skiing on Mount Lipallian in the Lake Louise Banff National Park, Alberta. Snowbrains.com reports the region has gained 15 inches of snow in the past week “substantially increasing” the danger of an avalanche.  “A tactically placed ski-cut triggered the rather large avalanche on a southerly aspect when the rider struck a weak point at the shallow layer next to a protruding rock,” said a report on Snow Brains. A ‘ski cut’ is a “defensive” tactic used by experienced skiers to test an area where an avalanche could occur, according to the Canadian National Avalanche Centre.

Ski cutting slopes to reduce avalanche danger is a controversial topic, practiced by many but not always performed safely or correctly. Most important is the awareness that groups sharing the same backcountry terrain be aware of others, with our recommendation to stay connected with BC Link radios for safe group communications.  Andy Mahre hosts an educational video BackSide Elevated Education Episode 19 – Ski Cutting a Slope, for more information.

BCA’s Facebook post stats 

  • Organic Reach: 134,694
  • Reactions: 555
  • Shares: 128
  • Comments (see a few below): 93

Mike Soucy – A defensive move used by experienced skiers. This much is true. But a totally inappropriate technique to rely upon when dealing with a persistent slab problem like the one in this video. Save the ski cuts for loose snow and isolated storm or wind slabs when you’re much less likely to get caught by surprise.

Bruce Edgerly, Backcountry Access, Inc. – Ski cuts are also supposed to be done high in the start zone, toward a clear point of safety, not in the middle of the path. Hard to tell from the video, but seems pretty exposed with no safe exit strategy.

Adrian Thibault – ‘Substantially increased’ the alpine to mod. And green and green respectively. Persistent slab and Nov crust to think of but that’s nothing new for

Dan Joshua – You’re supposed to be roped in, our at least have an ice ax. He could have propagated that slide 30 ft above him.

Andrew Barnhill – Cmon … This isn’t proper by any means.

Bill DeBirk – Well played

Joel Nyberg – Translated from Swedish – Stressful!

Christopher Chaba – damn rocky mtn death pack

Sebastian Evans – Ben Butler, Guy Wilson, Josh Ware, Tom Ling, Max Tomlinson, Jack French how scared would you be?


#2. LOVE THIS SNOW LEOPARD…IN GULMARG COUNTRY


Aussie Owen Lansbury got the fright of his snow loving life when he, his guide Dave and Hotham ski patroller Bill Barker from Bills Trips in Gulmarg got chased down by a snow leopard. This footage made the news worldwide, and the BCA community loved this 2016 Valentine’s Day post too.  A must-watch video, a must-read story.

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BCA’s Facebook post stats 

  • Organic Reach: 35,184
  • Reactions: 383
  • Shares: 77
  • Comments (see a few below): 53

Ryan Schuchard – Pretty amazing – there are only a few videos of snow leapords in the wild ever recorded, and most researchers who study them will never even see one.

Bennett Park – “I didn’t learn this in my AIARE course!”

Gabe Paras – That’s a pretty magical moment.


#3. AVY CATS: GOOD OR BAD IDEA?


Kudos to the Copper Mountain Ski Patrol gang for coming up with this fabulously original April Fool’s video, cat skiing at it’s finest. Here’s a look into the resort’s new Avalanche Cat program.

BCA’s Facebook post stats

  • Organic Reach: 33,396
  • Reactions: 352
  • Shares: 43
  • Comments (see a few below): 52

Troy Tanner – Cats, always a bad idea!

Rick Bell – One of the best April fools videos in a long time. I love how many he fits in his pack.

Gail Marshall – Something that has been in discussion by Search and Rescue groups for decades.

Louis Joseph Machado – Bryan DeCortie better start training your cat

Jeff Sopel – Bahaha ha!! Ya ok sure guys


#4. MORE SAD NEWS – TWO AVALANCHE FATALITIES, AND NONE IN THE PARTY WERE WEARING AVALANCHE BEACONS

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The avalanche, near the southern boundary of Jackson Hole Resort, broke on a south/southeast-facing convex roll steeper than 40º that had been loaded by wind and new snow, had a crown between two and four feet deep, and broke two hundred feet across. Two skiers died. The survivor ‘grabbed a tree’ and was not carried over the cliff or buried….At the crown of the avalanche the fracture was reported by patrollers to be two to four feet deep. The avalanche broke about 200 feet wide.  Avalanche rescue was made difficult by the fact that no one in the party were wearing avalanche transceivers.

BCA’s Facebook post stats

  • Organic Reach: 18,625
  • Reactions: 118
  • Shares: 61
  • Comments (see a few below): 51

Tameron Klumpel – I wear my Tracker 2 on Berthoud Pass at all times, no matter what the conditions. Get in that habit of always wearing one, or don’t go.

Brendan Browne – R.I.P. Sometimes it’s not worth risking your life even for the best pow run you will ever have. No excuse for not carrying gear though

Josh Bartels – Where there navy dogs on the scene? If it was trauma it wouldn’t have helped but if it was a soft slide the dogs would have found.

Jarl Skibumdad Berg – Truly sad.


BCA’s Most Viral Backcountry Snowmobiling Posts of 2016

#5. SLED PARTNERS DID NOT HAVE SHOVELS – ONE KILLED IN AVALANCHE TUESDAY

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Colorado recorded its third avalanche fatality of the 15/16 season when a snowmobiler stuck in a gully triggered an avalanche on the east side of Wolf Creek Pass. The avalanche was not relatively large, but a lack of shovels and the terrain trap nature of the accident prevented a speedy recovery. This was the 16th avalanche death in the USA this year including 12 in January alone.” – CAIC. We are sad to share this news, but want to emphasis to everyone to be on high alert and before you venture out. RIP and our condolences to the friends and family of one lost.

BCA’s Facebook post stats

  • Organic Reach: 134,694
  • Reactions: 555
  • Shares: 128
  • Comments (see a few below): 93

S. London Scherzer – What do you think of making the people that survive the avalanche and that don’t have the basic rescue equipment, liable for the death of the others? Similar to the seat belt laws in some states. The driver is liable if the others in the car aren’t wearing a seatbelt when there is an accident. It’s too much government regulation in our daily lives but I’m so tired of hearing about these deaths that might have been avoidable.

Calle Lillemagi – Jens, get an avalanche shovel man!


#6. NO SNOWMOBILE TRACKS – WATCH VIDEO.


Here’s the avalanche on Vail Pass in the spring of 2016. Not surprising that it was triggered with the conditions present. When no one else has tracks on the slope, it’s usually a good indicator that it’s not the right day. Thanks to BCA sled ambassador Mike Duffy of Avalanche 1 for sharing.

BCA’s Facebook post stats

  • Organic Reach: 13,824
  • Reactions: 60
  • Shares: 22
  • Comments (see a few below): 41

Dylan Hague – I love these videos. Keep it up. Good to see real examples of snowmobile-triggered avalanches

Elliott Leslie – I regularly see tracks on slopes that I wouldn’t dare touch on a given day, and I feel thankful that they got away with it. Which is not to say that I don’t take it seriously.

Brad Pieniazek – I was riding the same slope in March and it slid on me (see post).

Josh Martin – Luckily that slab stayed in place. That would have been sprinkles on the cake.

Markus Beck – “When no one else has tracks on the slope, its usually a good indicator that its not the right day.” I disagree with your statement! Because, you imply that if it has tracks on it, it is safe…. And that’s as wrong as it gets!

Eric Nix – The absence of tracks in no way indicates whether or not “it’s the right day”

Steven Burton – Also gotta watch out for failing cornices.