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Supporting the Organizations that Protect Our Winters (And Us)

The wonders of winter.

The tranquility of winter in the backcountry is unrivaled. Fresh powder, paired with good friends and the right gear, is a recipe for perfection. Some folks bide their summer awaiting the first snowfall of the season, others chase winter across the globe to get as much time in the snow as they possibly can.

Many will tell you that time spent outside in winter has changed them for the better, or has helped them find a piece of themselves they didn’t know was missing. Skilled thrill-seekers and low-key learners alike pursue the serenity of the snow, which promises a common ground that elsewhere might not be found.  

"Backcountry skiing allows us to both connect with the natural world and challenge ourselves outdoors in a way that lift-served skiing simply cannot provide. We seek out the backcountry to experience the mountains in their most real and uninterrupted state. The stillness of winter, feeling of a bottomless powder turn, and hoots and hollers from your closest friends…does it get any better?"  -Leland Kohere, Executive Director, Friends of the San Juans


Safety first – local efforts to provide avalanche awareness. As more people turn to the outdoors to find peace, clarity or exercise, both beginners and experts alike have shown up in record numbers. However, with unpredictable weather patterns and an ever-changing climate, the stunning backcountry continues to become more dangerous with each passing year. Unfortunately, during the 2020-21 winter season, there were 37 avalanche fatalities in the US, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center(Se abre en una ventana nueva), which is more than in any other season within the last decade. The US averaged 27 fatalities between 2009 and 2020, and the majority of these accidents were backcountry-related outings.

Creating safe, meaningful access for outdoor recreators and keeping our wildest places wild remains both a high priority, and an uphill battle. As leading outdoor advocates, we continue to work with and support community efforts on a local, national and global scale to inspire appreciation and safety in every outdoor journey.   Nestled in the southwest corner of Colorado, the San Juan Mountains are among the most unique and exceptional places in the country, and it also happens to be in the backyard of the place where Osprey found its Colorado roots(Se abre en una ventana nueva).   Each winter, recreators take to the backcountry of the San Juans to appreciate the nooks and crannies of this one-of-a-kind range. The snowpack in this region, while remarkably striking, is also known for its instability. Awareness, education and safety are critical when heading out to enjoy the adventures the San Juans have to offer. Whether it’s a weeklong backcountry ski tour or a short snowshoe trip, it’s important to be prepared to have a successful, enjoyable outing.

Right here in this unique corner of the country, you will find Friends of the San Juans – a grassroots non-profit based in Durango, Colorado, founded by a group of backcountry enthusiasts who saw a gap, and decided to fill it. Their team has dedicated their time to providing free avalanche awareness courses in Southwest Colorado. These volunteer-led sessions help equip new and experienced recreators with the critical information to stay safe during backcountry adventures.   Connecting with hundreds of folks each season, the extensive efforts of the Friends of the San Juans team continue to increase the availability of critical safety information and resources to the public. In addition to their in-person education efforts, Friends of the San Juans also consults with highly respected avalanche professionals, and provides a model for awareness level education throughout Colorado.   Tackling this tricky topic since 2014, Friends of the San Juans is a non-profit entity, whose funding comes entirely from community support in the form of donations, memberships and supporting partners. To support the work of this dedicated team, Osprey has been a core sponsor of the organization since its inception in 2014 to help continue this essential work.   You can help support the Friends of the San Juans by visiting their website to become a member(Se abre en una ventana nueva) or make a donation today! To learn more, head to abre en una ventana nueva).   PS: To find an avalanche education course provider near you, visit the American Avalanche Association(Se abre en una ventana nueva).

You can support the efforts of Winter Wildlands Alliance by becoming a member(Se abre en una ventana nueva), making a donation or signing up for action alerts(Se abre en una ventana nueva) to stay current on opportunities to speak up for the winter backcountry. Image via Winter Wildlands Alliance

Protection through passion. Fostering advocacy and working to advance systemic changes to reduce emissions and protect the future of our outdoor spaces – Protect Our Winters (POW) continues to address the climate crisis head on. Channeling passion from brands, athletes, scientists and the Outdoor State, what POW calls the 50 million people who recreate outdoors, POW is creating a massive and motivated vote of climate voters and advocates.

Founded in 2007 by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones, POW empowers people who love the outdoors to take action on the climate crisis and support meaningful changes. By providing folks of all backgrounds with the proper tools and information to get – and stay – involved at all levels, this global non-profit continues to inspire community action for a more climate-focused future.   It’s no secret that climate change has, and will continue to play a major role in outdoor recreation worldwide. With snow seasons predicted to continue getting shorter and fire seasons pushing longer, action is critical now more than ever.  If governments move with urgency to pass major programs and policies to address climate change, there’s still hope that we can save the lifestyles and places that we live for.

People who recreate outdoors know how to set goals and overcome tough odds. Join POW’s Outdoor State to make positive impacts on climate and energy policy at the local, state and federal level. Make a donation, take action or sign up to receive up-to-date information about ongoing campaigns at abre en una ventana nueva).

Focused on the future. Winter Wildlands Alliance (WWA) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving winter wildlands and a quality human-powered snowsports experience on public lands through education, outreach and advocacy.   WWA was founded in 2000 with acute awareness of the impact outdoor recreation has on our natural spaces. Striking a balance between keeping our wildest spaces wild while maintaining and promoting access to the outdoors, they saw the need to stand up and fight to protect the backcountry and all that it holds. “The landscape of winter recreation has changed radically since we started– with more people than ever seeking the backcountry experience – and our work is more relevant now than ever.”

You can make a difference Winter means something different to everyone. But no matter how you get out and enjoy the season, your support will help ensure the backcountry stays safe, protected and available for future generations.