OUT: OUTside Connection December 31, 2008

Avalanche education classes

SKIERS AND BOARDERS hear the siren call of Highlands Bowl at Aspen Highlands Ski Resort. The bowl opened midday Sunday after the Aspen ski patrol spent days working to alleviate and assess the avalanche danger. Colorado’s early season snowpack can be particularly dangerous after storm cycles drop new snow measured in feet.

Winter brings with it many beauties, with the accompanying irony that much of the beauty is swathed in danger.

New snow lures recreationists of all sorts, from skiers to boarders to snowmobile riders.

But Colorado’s early season snowpack is notoriously dangerous, and this year already there have been three backcountry fatalities, including one each near Crested Butte (snowboarder), Aspen (skier) and Granby (snowmobiler).

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (http://avalanche.state.co.us) Web site offers updated avalanche and weather information along with schedules for avalanche education classes.

Avalanche courses can be as short as a weekend but the education they offer can last, and save, a lifetime.

WHAT: Avalanche awareness training courses.

WHO: Trained instructors offer lessons in avalanche phenomena, route finding, terrain assessment, rescue and the most-recent avalanche transceiver protocols.

WHERE: Offered several times each month according to region of state. Most frequently in mountain communities.

WHEN: AIARE is the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education. Unless noted, students must supply beacons, probes, shovels and backcountry ski equipment.

• Jan. 2-4: Aspen, AIARE Level I Avalanche Course,  Aspen Expeditions, 970-925-7625, e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). All equipment available for rent.

• Jan. 8-10: Durango, AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course, Southwest Adventure Guides, 800-642-5389, e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

• Jan. 16-18: Crested Butte, AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course,  Crested Butte Mountain Guides, 970-349-5430, e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Also offers custom private courses, five-person minimum.


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