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The Avalanche Doesn't Care

A poem to remind you to stay safe out there

The avalanche doesn’t care if you’re an expert. (Illustration: Brendan Leonard)
The avalanche doesn’t care if you’re an expert.

As the saying goes,
The avalanche doesn’t care if you’re an expert
On avalanches,
Or an expert on anything else, really
The avalanche does not care that you have some email you’d like to answer
Or that you’ve been meaning to clean your garage
Or spend more time with your kids
The avalanche just cares about gravity
And getting down the mountain

The avalanche doesn’t care that you are not an expert,
Or that this is your first day ever skiing in the backcountry
Or your 200th day
The avalanche really doesn’t care
If you would prefer
Not to take a ride under thousands of pounds of snow
Moving downhill at 150 mph
And come to a stop under the debris
Nothing personal here
Just physics

The avalanche doesn’t care
If you haven’t done everything
You wanted to do in life yet
The avalanche doesn’t care about your plans
Or dreams, or your free will, or whatever
For all the avalanche cares,
You could be a tree or a rock
Really, you’re just in the way 

The avalanche doesn’t care if your friends are experts
On avalanches, or on snow science,
Or at digging you out from under
Ten feet of recently relocated snow
The avalanche will probably not decide to take it easy on you
And bury you under six feet of snow
Instead of ten feet this time, no hard feelings

The avalanche doesn’t care if you respect it
It will not pick a fight with you in a bar
For bumping into it or stepping on its shoe
It does not have an ego or an agenda
Just a lot of mass and potential energy
That is really hard to win an argument with
Once it starts moving

The avalanche doesn’t care about you
Or the things you wanted to do in the next few years
But unlike the avalanche
A few people would probably like it
If you got home safely
So be careful out there
And if you’re not sure how to be careful
Maybe stay in bounds until you are

Because skiing is fun
And being able to continue to ski for a very long time
Is even more fun
And of course there are other things in life
That are nice to be there for, too

Filed To: SkiingScienceSnow SafetySnow Sports
Lead Illustration: Brendan Leonard