Big thanks to Backcountry Access for sponsoring this avalanche education content. Check out the additional plethora of avalanche safety resources on their website.
I’ve always liked Ruedi Beglinger and been a fan of his incredible operation in Canada. More, I have dozens of friends who ski with him every winter. As mentioned in previous blog posts, I’m curious about just how safe being guided in Canada is. Ruedi published a letter on his website (defunct link removed 2015) that says he’s done 5,600 days of ski mountaineering guiding as of this October. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume he’s had an average of nine people per day (I asked some of his clients for a ball-park average), for a total of 50,400 “guest days” under his wing.
As we all sadly know, seven people died during those estimated 50,400 days. So how does that compare to other activities? Take a look at various websites that try to make sense of human risk factors, then consider that fitness DECREASES your risk of death by a significant degree, and backcountry skiing requires a high fitness level. My gut feeling after doing a bit of math is that CAREFUL and risk averse backcountry skiers, guided or otherwise, can rest assured they have a statistical likelihood of leading long lives, and if misfortune does occur in our lives, it will probably not be in the form of an avalanche — our days being guided or otherwise.