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Level 1 AIARE Avalanche Course in Durango and the San Juans

Intro to Ice Climbing and Winter Mountaineering Course
January 4, 2010
Ice Climbing in Eureka Canyon, Silverton
January 8, 2010
Last week’s AIARE Level 1 Avalanche course was a huge success.  Four motivated individuals came out mid-week to improve their avalanche knowledge and skills.  There was a great mix of experience levels in the group including a professional skier, a competitive park rider, a recreational snowboarder, and a mountaineer.  During the course, we had an excellent opportunity to address the relevancy of avalanche knowledge to each person’s needs.

We were fortunate to have perfect conditions that made learning during this course optimal.  We began with a light snow on Tuesday which continued through the next day, leaving a new layer of San Juan snow to look at.  Observing how wind transported the new snow onto lee and crossloaded aspects was very valuable for bringing attention to obvious start zones as well as not so obvious ones.  We also enjoyed digging in the snow and observing all the previous snow storms and how those have changed over time.  Learning to identify the potential weak layers and to gather more information with different snowpack tests helped the students identify the potential problem layers.  As always, the San Juans obliged with an interesting snowpack structure!

This course was a great success with students leaving excited about the new knowledge and skills they learned.  No doubt these new skills will help keep them safe out there in the backcountry!
Aaron
Top of the skin track above Prospect Bowl

Top of the skin track above Prospect Bowl

Nate switching his beacon to search

Nate switching his BCA Tracker beacon to search

Jason probing for a victim

Jason probing with his BCA Profile 240 for a victim

Ben in search mode

Ben in search mode with his BCA Tracker beacon

Ben on the move!

Ben on the move!

On the skin track through fresh San Juan snow

On the skin track through fresh San Juan snow

Checking out the San Juan snowpack

Checking out the San Juan snowpack