Before an avalanche in September 2014 on Monte San Lorenzo, Chile, silenced him forever, Andreas Fransson spoke often to his younger sister, Sandra Fransson. Among other topics, the siblings spent time talking about Andreas' devotion to the mountains, as well as his desire to mentor younger skiers, show them how to ski and travel safely in high-risk terrain.
"When Andreas was young he got a lot of help from the older skiers," says Sandra. "He felt it was time that he did the same to the youth."
This fall, Sandra put Andreas’ vision to the ground and started Safe Passions, a nonprofit dedicated to spreading mountain safety awareness, focusing on the youth. This winter, the organization, in partnership with Salomon and RECCO, will host its first Freeski/Safety camp in Chamonix for eight skiers.
The skiers, who need to apply for a spot in the camp, must show a desire to live their lives in the mountains as well as the capacity to handle high-alpine terrain. They will learn safe glacier travel, rappelling techniques, ski-touring skills, and snow safety, among other things. This is the organization's first step in carrying on Andreas' legacy.
The last summer Andreas was alive, he and Sandra went bouldering at a gym in Amsterdam. After about two hours, Sandra announced she was tired and ready to head back. Andreas agreed, but before they left, he said she should complete all the blue graded projects. This left Sandra with 17 more to do, but Andreas would not let her give up.
"Two hours later, after a lot of cheering and willpower, I had managed to make it through all the blue graded ones," she says. "I think that's why Andreas was one of the best skiers in the world. He had such a discipline and willpower greater than most people."
Andreas and Sandra were very close. He was the one she would turn to when she needed advice. He was also energetic, full of life, and had the ability to coach and push others to succeed, something that Safe Passions hopes to give the next generation of extreme skiers.
Sandra is an artist. Finding inspiration in nature and skiing, many of her mosaic paintings depict life in the mountains. As a tribute to her brother, she created a piece called "From Darkness Into The Light," which depicts Andreas at Monte San Lorenzo. Salomon built seven skis with her design as the top sheet. Three of the skis are currently on auction on Safe Passion's website to raise funds. Bidding closes on December 1.
There are also posters of Sandra's design available for purchase through the site. Donations, poster sales, and money raised from the auction all go toward funding Safe Passions' camps and events, which are tailored toward young skiers. For Sandra, this is a very important initiative. She said she made a lot of mistakes as a teenager in the backcountry because she didn’t have proper training.
"I had the right equipment but I had no clue on how to use it. I was more concerned about finding the powder than my own and other people's safety," she says.
Giving skiers the opportunity to learn by making it affordable is key. In the future, Sandra hopes Safe Passions will continue to raise funding in order to create more courses and camps to further the organization's mission of spreading safety awareness. Applications for January's camp must be received by November 10. Sandra says she strongly encourages women apply as well.
Andreas would have been proud of his sister's organization and her determination to see it grow.
"He never saw the limits in me,” she said, “just the possibilities. And for that I am thankful."
Marquee Photo: Daniel Rönnbäck/Courtesy of Sandra Fransson