Forum, Classes Through January
Buying an avalanche beacon is, many agree, a proactive step in winning the avalanche game. Yet having the proper equipment comprises only one rung of the multi-step ladder that leads to avalanche safety in the backcountry.
Knowing how to use a beacon, and having the practiced hand and mental wherewithal to use it effectively in an emergency, is your best hope of keeping an avalanche accident from turning into a tragedy. This Monday, Jan. 8, the San Juan Field School will present “You Are the Rescuer: Avalanche Rescue and Beacon Use in the Backcountry” at 7 p.m. at Rebekah Hall. The presentation is a part of the Monday Night Avalanche Awareness Forum Series
San Juan Field School Director Josh Butson describes Monday’s forum as a succinct, Avalanche Rescue 101 class.
“It is geared toward those members of the community just starting, or just starting to think about, getting out into the backcountry,” he says.
Butson, who will lead Monday’s discussion, will give a brief description of basic avalanche rescue techniques and provide an overview of new beacon technology, including the different styles available. Participants will get a basic outline of what to do if caught in an avalanche; how to use an avalanche beacon to rescue others; how to organize a rescue; and what kind of avalanche beacon to buy.
Monday’s Forum will be followed by four free beacon rescue clinics, which will offer local backcountry enthusiasts some time in the field to practice using their beacons in an organized rescue scenario situation.
“All beacons come with a manual – but if you don’t get out and practice with it, it’s not going to be a very effective rescue tool,” Butson says.
Monday night’s classroom discussion is free, as are the beacon practice sessions, which take place Tuesday, Jan. 9 at 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and Wednesday, January 10 at 9 a.m. and noon. All beacon practice clinics will be held at the base of Chair 7 in Telluride and last one-and-a-half hours.
For those looking to expand their knowledge about avalanches, safety in the backcountry, and avalanche rescue, the San Juan Field School is offering its popular Level I Avalanche School, Jan. 12-14. Sponsored by San Juan Field School, San Juan Outdoor School and Telluride Ski Patrol, this introductory course provides the basics to evaluate avalanche conditions. In its 16th year, the course introduces students to avalanche safety techniques in both classroom and field sessions. While learning about the relationship that exists between mountain weather, snowpack stability and terrain features, students will gain a basic understanding of how to evaluate avalanche conditions. Field sessions make up 50 percent of course content and are conducted in a variety of settings. Telluride Ski Area lift access will be provided for non-pass holders. Price for this course is $210 and is limited to 25 participants. Those who complete the course will receive a Certificate of Completion.
The 4th annual Level II Backcountry Avalanche School is scheduled for later in the month, Jan. 12-21. Co-sponsored by the San Juan Field School and the San Juan Outdoor School, this course continues avalanche education for those more serious about getting into the backcountry during winter. An advanced level course, students receive an in-depth look at avalanches at a level appropriate to snow workers, avalanche professionals and long-time backcountry enthusiasts. Participants will travel into Telluride’s backcountry to spend three days digging snow-pits, evaluating mountain weather patterns, learning methods of risk assessment and safe travel protocol, and work on beacon skills in complex rescue scenarios. Lodging and food is provided at the Alta Lakes Observatory. Cost for the course is $425 and includes food and lodging as well as instruction.
For more information on these or any programs of the San Juan Field School, visit their website, www.tellurideadventures.com or call 708-7736.