When an avalanche in Tunnel Creek just outside the boundary of Stevens Pass, WA struck last February, it claimed the lives of three members of a group of 15 skiers and snowboarders. Jim Jack, Johnny Brenan and Chris Rudolph were friends of ours and skiers through and through. Because they were in a crew of industry insiders and journalists, and because of the horrific nature of the accident, the story has become “The Most Popular Avalanche in America” according to the snark-gossip website Gawker. Outside of the complete lack of empathy from Gawker, the recognition of the story and coverage in Outside Magazine (a feature story titled “Tunnel Vision” by Freeskier contributor Megan Michelson, who was with the group at Stevens that day), ESPN (in a mega-feature on “The Avalanche Problem“) and now the New York Times is good for skiing in that it remembers the fallen while informing those of us lucky enough to still be out there shredding.
The media attention is bringing out-of-industry journalistic attention and exposing an unprecedented amount of detail of the lives lost, the lessons learned, and the lives affected. The New York Times is following up with the most comprehensive and beautifully realized piece “Snow Fall, The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” written by John Branch. Give it a read, and please be safe when you’re out enjoying the great snow we’ve been blessed with over the holidays.