I must say to Mr. and Mrs. Liston (letters to the editor, Jan. 6), how wise you are for living in Anchorage and not at 245 Behrends Ave. As a personal friend of avalanche expert Bill Glude, and as a professional helicopter skiing guide who has made a living dealing with avalanches, I really must assure you that Mr. Glude is only trying to lessen the impact of the inevitable disaster that Juneau will someday have to deal with.
I have triggered hundreds of slides, I have been caught in a few, and was even buried and was rescued by a friend who fortunately had taken an avalanche course from our two-bit friend, Bill Glude.
Mr. and Mrs. Liston are right about Glude being a nickel-and-dime operator though. I'm sure Bill could be pulling down $70,000-plus a year in some state job, because he is one of the most intelligent people I know. But instead he has chosen a different path. He knew there was no money in being a "snow geek" and he has lived a modest life splitting his time between educating hundreds of people about the joy of playing in the snow while dealing with the dangers of avalanches, and looking for a few dollars to fund his classes, studies, and public information tools by lobbying state and city officials, private business, and the occasional contract.
As a former board member of the Southeast Alaska Avalanche Center I have intimate knowledge of just how squeaky tight Bill's budget really is. If Bill ever gets tired of maxing out his credit cards until his next grant or study contract comes along, and gets a "real" job, Juneau will suffer. The loss would be measured in lives, as the next generation of snow riders learns about avalanches the hard way.
The Listons and the rest of the people who live in or near any of the slide paths in the Juneau area should be thanking Bill Glude. He has spent countless hours of unpaid time doing everything he can to get government to buy these at-risk places, at fair market value. He is doing this to save your lives, not for profit. He is trying to keep Juneau as a town that remains a place known for its natural beauty and from becoming the town who created a huge disaster by burying their heads in the sand.