Pressure can be a dangerous drug. This inner urge to try and conquer aspects of ourselves and our surroundings has lead to some incredible feats. In our small world of skiing, pressure has led to individuals accomplishing mind bending tasks that would have otherwise never been possible. Whether it stems from an inner drive or external forces, we are all subject to that ever persuading feeling of, “one more”. One more rotation, one slightly bigger line, or one more lap; it’s all a part of the delicate balance that is risk management.
As skiers, it’s only natural that we find ourselves in this position quite often. We might not know it, but these choices are in play from the moment we leave our homes and venture into the unknown. And while there is still a level of risk at hand while skiing in any resort, the pressures and factors that contribute to accidents increase exponentially in the untouched snow of the backcountry. Having the proper gear and education are necessary pieces of the puzzle when it comes to avoiding a worse case scenario. But even then, there’s no guarantee that things won’t slip out of place.
This is the preface of the first episode of Mammut’s newest web series, titled ‘Stories from Avalanche Terrain’. Episode one follows professional freeride skiers Lake and Forrest Schorderet, and backtracks the story that surrounds their avalanche accident which took place in March of 2021. Having grown up in the hills of Switzerland, both Lake and Forrest have been immersed in the dangers of the mountains for most of their lives. They’ve competed on some of the biggest stages the sport offers, and as Mammut athletes, they have access to some of the highest quality gear and education in the world. Considering all this, you would think they are rather impervious to a disaster like this. But if their story is a reminder of anything, it’s that we are all human, and therefor subject to the same tendencies of getting caught up in the moment, and allowing pressure to push us towards error.
With January and February of 2021 providing little to no snow across Switzerland, a big storm cycle in March of that year left the Schorderet brothers hungry for action. They’ll be the first to tell you that they got careless, and let the powder fever go to their heads. Unstable snow and a lack of attention led to a massive slide, which swept the two of them off their feet, and buried Lake well below the surface of the debris. Both walked away with their lives in hand, thanks to quick action and a well organized rescue, but an extremely close call like this is often needed to remind those who hears it of the very real risk that is associated with the craft of skiing. No matter your experience, or gear, or knowledge, sometimes shit just goes sideways.
While there is no doubt that this daunting experience left both of the brothers with much to consider, they seem to be putting it behind them and learning from it, which is exactly what you would hope for. Now it’s our turn to listen to what they have to say, and face the new day with the knowledge we’ve obtained. Both Lake and Forrest deserve a huge thank you for taking the time and having the bravery to share what they now know with us all, and hopefully we’ll see more of them working their magic on skis shortly.