FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) — Conditions are ripe for enjoying Colorado’s backcountry. Wave after wave of snowstorms have turned the Rocky Mountains into a snowmobiler’s dream.
But that snow can turn deadly in just seconds. A devastating reality Brian Lundstedt knows all too well.
“In 2012, my family had an accident on (Buffalo) Pass and both of my little brothers were caught. One survived and one didn’t,” he told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
Tyler Lundstedt, 24, was buried and killed by that avalanche east of Steamboat Springs. In his memory, Brian started the nonprofit Tyler’s Backcountry Awareness, offering a first-of-its-kind avalanche safety course for snowmobilers and other motorized users.
“Motorized users have a large footprint in the avalanche terrain, and at that time, we weren’t really represented well. If you wanted to take education, you had to take it on skis or snowshoes,” Brian explained. “Now we offer education that’s based on your common form of travel, so you can go learn the way that you’re going to ride… versus taking a skier class and figuring out how it applies to you.”
Brian now travels all over the Rocky Mountain west encouraging backcountry enthusiasts to build their preparedness skills, especially when planning an adventure where avalanche danger is high.
“Getting your wallet out and just buying a bunch of gear doesn’t help,” he said. “Buying equipment, having a travel plan, talking about it with your friends, all of those are pieces of the puzzle. But to get a clear picture, you have to have all the pieces. Getting an education will help you assemble those pieces in the proper order.”
When asked if he would ever tell someone to not go to an area deemed at a high risk for avalanches, Brian responded, “I would never tell someone ‘don’t go.’ We teach ‘go differently.’”
Brian explained education and understanding the terrain is key to staying safe.
“It’s really more about identifying where the problem is and then riding around it,” he said.”
He is more than willing to teach snowmobilers and snow bike riders how to safely enjoy the outdoors so no other family has to experience the pain of losing a loved one in the backcountry.
“That’s really the drive behind our program,” said Brian. “If I can make it so that one more person goes home to their wife, or one more person goes home to their kids, or one more kid goes home to their parents, then that’s gratitude enough.”
Tyler’s Backcountry Awareness, based in Fort Collins, offers entry level classes for free, operating on donations and sponsors.