While skiing Berthoud Pass in 1994, Bruce Edgerly was completely buried in an avalanche. This harrowing experience prompted Bruce to contact Bruce McGowan, inventor of the Backcountry Trekker ski touring binding adapter. Together they founded Backcountry Access, a company whose number one goal is to make backcountry skiing safer. Bruce and Bruce got right to work on their flagship product—the BCA Tracker avalanche beacon. The beacon was released in 1997 and became an instant hit with backcountry enthusiasts because it was so easy to use, even under stressful, hurried conditions.
Today, Backcountry Access carries a full line of backcountry safety equipment. In addition to beacons, shovels and probes, BCA has developed the latest in airbag technology that is designed to keep an avalanche victim on top of the snow and out of harm's way. The Float airbag backpacks, which inflate with the assistance of a compressed air cylinder, also protect the wearer from blunt force trauma.BCA also manufactures the BC Link, a radio to help you keep in contact with your group and optimized for use with BCA's new line of Stash backpacks. BCA even carries a full line of portable snow study tools designed to allow backcountry skiers to determine how safe a slope is before they drop in.
BCA realizes that, with the development of life-saving products comes a certain responsibility to educate, and to that end it has fulfilled its responsibility in spades. Not only does BCA's site feature educational material and several snow safety videos, but the company has set up more than 60 beacon training parks across the USA to help people practice with their beacons. Other resources that BCA has sponsored include beacon checkpoints at backcountry gates, and financial support to youth-oriented safety programs. In fact, Bruce Edgerly says that they now consider education just as important in the backcountry as a beacon, shovel, or probe. Coming from the guys who make the equipment, that says a lot.
The folks at BCA look at their jobs as much more than selling products: they're saving lives. Through research, education, and innovation, Backcountry Access is making backcountry skiing a safer, more accessible sport for all of us.