This weekend’s avalanche near Loveland Pass that killed five snowboarders hits close to home for one Fort Collins family.
Brian Lundstedt’s two younger brothers got caught in an avalanche during a snowmobiling trip last January.
Jordan Lundstedt made it out alive, but Tyler Lundstedt died that day.
That inspired Brian to start a nonprofit organization called “Tyler’s Backcountry Awareness.” He has raised tens of thousands of dollars and now travels around the state teaching free avalanche safety classes.
“Every avalanche this year has been really difficult. It strikes really close to home and makes you want to push even harder and get all the information out there,” Brian Lundstedt said. “My family is really close, I got to spend a lot of time with my brother, so if I can prevent the loss to a family that wasn’t as strong as ours, that’s really what I’m after. That’s the driving force.”
He knows he is making an impact. Brian said, “I had a father who kind of’ broke into tears at the end of the class that he had no idea how dangerous he’s been riding with his boys for years. It was a real eye opener. I find that’s something that is important to me so that there’s no excuse for a family not to come out about the safety about what they are doing. It’s a decision making course, it’s all about traveling wisely, how to make a plan and how to follow through with companion rescue so that if there is an accident, how you can effectively rescue your friends.”
He says, “To watch people coming in with all the right equipment, not knowing how to use it, to have it open their eyes and how to use and practice with their equipment, it’s really rewarding.”
He says it is a free class, but people usually want to make a donation at the end of it.
Brian says a beacon, a probe, and air bag and AvaLung are essentials, but he says backcountry adventurers should not depend on these items to save their lives.
“I don’t think any of the gear, any of the training anything like that should be used to make you feel overly confident. I think it should be a tool to stack the odds in your favor.”
By all accounts, Brian’s brothers were well trained and well prepared, just like the victims of this weekend’s Loveland avalanche.
But he says it just shows there is always room to learn and improve when it comes to avalanche safety. He said, “It’s really important to make it home at night.”
For more information: http://www.backcountryawareness.org/