AmSnow.com is now SnoWest.com ADAM ANDERSEN AVALANCHE PROJECT
The Adam Andersen Avalanche Project was established last year to honor avalanche victim Adam Andersen, a vivacious, fun-loving friend, son, brother, husband, and father of our three young children. The loss of Adam has left a large imprint in the hearts of many.
Adam was snowmobiling in the Mount Jefferson area of Island Park, Idaho, with two friends on Jan. 10, 2018. Neither Adam nor the others in his group were equipped with proper safety gear and were not aware of the avalanche conditions that day.
Adam was caught and fully buried while cutting up a steep gully. His friends and volunteers searched frantically for hours, but with no success. Fremont County Search and Rescue was forced to postpone the search until the next day in an effort to keep others safe. The next morning, Adam’s body was located within five minutes, less than 10 feet from his snowmobile and only 18 inches below the snow’s surface.
¦ Mountain riders need to know
Sadly, in the 2017-2018 season there were 25 reported avalanche fatalities in the United States; 12 (including Adam) were snowmobilers.
As snowmobiling continues to grow in popularity, and many begin to explore the new challenge of snow biking, it is imperative that the riding community becomes more aware. The “it won’t happen to me” mindset is dangerous to those who lack avalanche education. The high cost of safety gear also may deter riders from purchasing it. The Project was started to help change these things and cut the number of fatalities.
Avalanche safety gear -- including airbag, probe, shovel, and beacon -- is now available to rent for free at High Mountain Adventures in Island Park, Idaho, and at Action Motor Sports in Idaho Falls, Idaho, through the Project. It also has provided avalanche warning signs that are now posted at every trailhead in Island Park and has helped host two avalanche awareness events along with Action Motorsports.
The Project continues to make progress raising snowmobiler awareness, and it is something I hope to continue to do for many years. It may seem odd to see a 32-year-old single mother who is not even an avid snowmobiler working to raise avalanche safety awareness. However, this work is key to me. It is something I feel that I must do, something I feel compelled to continue to do. This is my calling, my mission, because Adam Andersen was my best friend, my partner, the father of my children and my loving husband of eight years.
January 10, 2018, a Wednesday that may have been ordinary to most, was life-altering for me. My life became the aftermath of an avalanche; splintered wood everywhere, debris, dirt displaced, trees pulverized. I found myself alone, seemingly abandoned with a newborn baby girl, a toddler with lifelong disabilities, and a six-year-old boy asking where daddy was. I stood alone in the home Adam and I created together, the home where we ran his business, had a dog, wrestled our boys, celebrated birthdays and Christmas. In one sweeping wave of solid snow, it was all wiped away.
My path into widowhood has been far from easy, but throughout this harrowing journey I have chosen to channel my grief into something I hope will prevent another family from being hit the way mine was.
¦ Don’t be scared, be prepared
The objective of the Adam Andersen Avalanche Project is not to scare riders or deter anyone from adventures in the backcountry. It’s about understanding an avalanche forecast, appreciating Mother Nature, and being vigilant with learning how to properly use safety gear. The objective is to bring every rider home each night to their families.
Our next awareness event and fundraiser is Oct. 19 at Action Motorsports in Idaho Falls. It is my hope to see the Project continue to post warning signs at trailheads throughout Idaho, encouraging riders to check the forecast for that day and check their safety gear.
- Summer Andersen
Want to get involved with the Adam Andersen Avalanche Project? You can make donations at adamandersen.org, and follow the group on Facebook.