Controversial Avalanche Video Ignites ABS Debate

Advertising life-saving gear

Outside Online News

Avalanche in Nepal     Photo: Simon le nippon/Flickr

A video of freeskier Aymar Navarro surviving a massive avalanche with the aid of an ABS backpack has drawn criticism online. The video, with a grand and heart-pumping soundtrack, shows Navarro trigger an enormous avalanche while skiing in the Spanish Pyrenees. Navarro's avalanche airbag system is activated and he fortunately survives the dangerous slide.

While the ABS system seems to do its job, many questions are being raised about the motives behind the short clip. Powder Magazine editor Matt Hansen pennedan op-ed ripping the video apart.

"You’d think that after all the heartbreak skiers have sustained in recent years, and all the attention given to the tragic outcome of avalanches, that we’d finally arrived to a point where the glorification of avalanches was a thing of the past. Apparently, that’s not the case. This week, a video is going around the web showing Spanish skier Aymar Navarro triggering a massive avalanche, trying to outrun it before he gets consumed in its path, then deploying his airbag backpack. He survives, shakes off the snow, then, as seen through his helmet cam, he climbs back aboard the helicopter. It’s as if nothing ever happened and he’s ready to take another run. There are, of course, many videos showing how airbags can help skiers survive an avalanche. The ugly difference in this video is the prominent nature of the ABS logo, the editing to specifically showcase the ABS pack (including showing Aymar readying the pack’s trigger mechanism before skiing), the dramatic music, and the fact there is nothing in terms of messaging about decision-making or avalanche safety. Rather, the message appears to be that all you need to survive an avalanche is to wear an ABS backpack."

The Navarro video raises the contentious issue of how the outdoor industry should advertise life-saving equipment. Backcountry exploration is only gaining in popularity and, as Powder's Matt Hansen explains, "avalanches are very real, very dangerous, and that avoiding them requires more than just gear."



What do you think? Advertising taken too far, or a useful look at a piece of gear in action?

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