UPDATE/DISCLAIMER/TRIGGER WARNING: This post made someone I love mad. (Like literally everything I write makes SOMEONE mad but not always someone I love). I am NOT trying to be insensitive about/make light of death by avalanche, and I do NOT think it's "funny" to die in an avalanche. It is also a complete and total coincidence that I wrote about this today and that someone some people know died in an avalanche recently. I am just saying that we all have to die somehow and someday, and that I will probably die of a Nutella overdose or cancer from makeup before I die in an avalanche because I am extremely lame. And yes I also know that technically I could die in an in-bounds avalanche in which case everyone can say "I told you so," and I will be even lamer!
There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who are cool enough to die in an avalanche, and those who aren't.
That's my number one takeaway from living most of my adult life in Juneau. I have also learned that I am firmly in the latter category, and that I am completely fine with that.
The former category--the people who are cool enough to die in an avalanche--are easy to spot. They have all this equipment and knowledge that more or less says "I'm cool enough to die in an avalanche, but I won't, because I know exactly how not to die in an avalanche. However, I could still be unlucky enough to die in an avalanche, so I need to continue to have all of this equipment and knowledge that lets the world know that I'm cool enough to die in an avalanche."
So. How to spot them? Well, like I said, they are super cool. They have a beater truck or an old manual Subaru with a zillion bumper stickers all over it. Stickers that say stuff like "ALASKA GIRLS KICK ASS" or some inside joke about lingo on the upper peninsula of Michigan, or something like "I LIKE MY BEER COLD, THE TONGASS WILD, AND MY MUSIC PIPED INTO MY BLUE-TOOTH ENABLED SKI HELMET OVER THE TERRIFYING ROAR OF AN AVALANCHE AND ALL OF ITS ATTENDANT DEBRIS."
They also have these special bindings on their skis and these long stickers called "skins" to put on their skis that let them walk ALL THE WAY up the mountain instead of SITTING on the chairlift to "earn their turns" for some reason, and a backpack with a beacon and a shovel and maybe even one of those inflatable air bag things because again, they are cool enough to die in an avalanche.
Again, I am not cool enough to die in an avalanche, but I did earn my turns by sitting/sometimes standing at a desk for a really long time, getting a paycheck by direct deposit, and then turning around and giving 3/4 of it to a chairlift.
If I drew a Venn diagram of people who are cool enough to die in an avalanche, there would be a big overlap between people with beards (if male), cute blonde braids (if female), people who shoot their own hot dogs in the woods, people who have seen every Warren Miller movie, and people who teach other people how to be cool enough to die in an avalanche.
Personally, when I die (and chances are I will), my headstone will say: "HERE LIES SOMEONE WHO DIED, BUT NOT BECAUSE OF AN AVALANCHE, BECAUSE SHE WASN'T THAT COOL."