Tell us what happened
Dear Editor:I would like to express my appreciation to the local media for their coverage of the recent avalanche fatality of John Jensen. This includes The Aspen Times, Aspen Daily News and KAJX. I was especially appreciative of the KAJX story that aired on Wednesday, detailing who John was, where he was from, and what his background was. They even had an audio interview with one of John’s friends in New Mexico. This is the stuff that matters (or should matter) to the public. I certainly hope that this incident does not transform itself into a series of accusations and finger-pointing.One could simplify backcountry risk assessment by saying that steep backcountry skiing in Colorado is dangerous in winter. This is well-known among many in the backcountry skiing community, but some choose to do it anyway because of the incredible experiences it offers. The students in the Level II class knew of the risks and willingly accepted them because of what they were seeking. I like to think that they were seeking not only knowledge, but also the thrill and independence of traveling in the great white wild.Unfortunate circumstances fall upon even the best guides in the world. This was well proven two years ago when Ruedi Beglinger, one of North America’s most respected ski guides, lost seven guests in one terrible avalanche. Nature always has the last say, especially with such dynamic components as snowpack evaluation. Backcountry travel is all about minimizing risks. Though I don’t know the full details of the event, I’m certain that Aspen Expeditions was doing everything they could to minimize the risks that day. I sincerely hope that they provide a detailed account of their decision-making process to the public. This would be most advantageous to the backcountry skiing community, as decision-making is often the most variable and inexact component of backcountry travel.My sincere sympathies go out to John’s family.Jon FredericksCarbondale
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