Bruce Tremper Talks Backcountry Responsibility At Outdoor Retailer

Bruce Tremper Talks Backcountry Responsibility At Outdoor Retailer

Bruce Tremper, director of the Utah Avalanche Center, has been immersed in the backcountry environment and community for a lifetime. Born to a backcountry-savvy, volunteer ski-patrolling father, Bruce’s career sprouted from the experience of the natural forces that he now mediates in his daily life. Based in Salt Lake City, UT, Bruce presented his avalanche theory and education at the Avalaunch booth in the Snowsports Zone at the Outdoor Retailer convention on January 23, 2013.

With many years of experience with the gravity permeating avalanche terrain, Bruce’s demeanor and presence display a calm patience underlain with understanding. His position demands that concern be applied to the many disciples and potential disciples of the church of holy powder; managing and propagating avalanche education necessitates outreach to the informed and uninformed alike.

Challenged by a culture that emphasizes purchases, extremity of deeds and magnificent physical accomplishment Bruce struggles to remind his audience that for every epic line or incredible cliff drop there is a lengthy process of education, preparation and support that often goes unseen in promotional footage. This omission carries loaded assumptions that may encourage people without training to attempt terrain outside their own ability and understanding.

“The evolution of backcountry equipment and technology is incredible: there are beacons and probes and avalungs that do great work keeping people alive in dangerous and critical situations. However, even with all the bells and whistles people still die in avalanches every year because of the decisions they make in the backcountry. Sports have evolved into increasingly extreme realms; when I was young, we simply avoided avalanche terrain. Nowadays people are pushing the boundaries in every sport, in backcountry terrain those boundaries have dire consequences.”

The management of risk in the backcountry is of lifelong importance to Bruce, though he finds it difficult to perceive statistics of overall safety. Because there are no tickets and the endeavor itself can be singular or small group oriented, recording trends is difficult. More people accessing the backcountry with more frequency, using more advanced technology does indicate the rising popularity of winter culture and thus the need for more education and awareness. With technology advancing more rapidly by the year, Bruce finds himself becoming jaded in respect to products; a heavy receipt from a retailer never guarantees safety unless it is combined with education, experience and the decision making resultant.

Experience is the only trend he supports wholeheartedly in his prospective thought: “If there were some way to endow new backcountry enthusiasts with the experience of travelled riders who have seen firsthand the power and nature of avalanches with the danger they present, we would hopefully see less fatal or damaging accidents.” Lacking any serious virtual reality experience geared towards avalanche education, Bruce has to make due with the avalanche center and his lectures to build a balance between extreme image and the practicality of education for those of us who brave the unmonitored slopes.bruce tremper

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