While this winter is seeing booming sales of backcountry skiing equipment, it’s also one of the deadliest avalanche seasons on record—so far, 31 backcountry travelers have been killed in nine states.

A whiskey company is doing what it can to help. Like a Saint Bernard coming to the rescue with a barrel attached to its collar, Tincup Whiskey has partnered with the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) and Weston Backcountry to increase avalanche education and backcountry safety.

renan osturk tincup skis
Ozturk with the Weston custom skis of his design. Renan Ozturk

Working with ski maker Weston, Tincup has created a limited number of backcountry skis and splitboards, with special graphics created by renowned mountaineer and photographer-artist Renan Ozturk. Under the program launched today (Feb. 25), everyone who takes an AIARE course this season will be registered to win a pair. Skiers and riders can also register to win by visiting tincupwhiskey.com and testing their avalanche knowledge and pledging to continue their avalanche education.

“We’re rooted in the backcountry whiskey tradition of the Old West, where you celebrate a day of adventure with friends around a fire and cheers of whiskey,” says Lander Otegui of parent company Proximo Spirits. “This partnership should help galvanize people to be good partners in adventure and get the training they need to seek out wild places but then make it home safely.”

tincup rye
Courtesy Image

Known for its television ads celebrating mountaineering, Tincup has long ties to avalanche terrain. It was founded by Jess Graber, an ex-rodeo competitor who gave the wares from his first still fellow construction workers and volunteer firefighters. With help from whiskey maker George Stranahan, he named his company after the former mining town of Tin Cup, Colo., perched at 10,157 feet in the avalanche-prone Sawatch Mountain Range.

For its part, AIARE, which put 12,000 people through its courses last year, is excited about the project’s potential to further avalanche safety. “It’s great that a company known for celebrating outdoors is looking at the other side of adventuring and making sure people come home safely,” says AIARE executive director Vickie Hormuth. “And this should help extend the reach to anyone who’s recreating in the backcountry. It’s all about doing it safely and coming home to celebrate at the end of the day.” Hormuth adds that the average age of this year’s avalanche victims is a whiskey-drinking 48.

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