Join Chicks and the Silverton Avalanche School for this 1-day course to expand your awareness of avalanche hazards and get honed on companion rescue skills to make you a more competent backcountry partner. Designed for newcomers to the backcountry and seasoned veterans alike, the skills covered will give you more confidence to use your avalanche rescue equipment and a framework for sound decision-making in the event of an avalanche incident. We’ll provide you with resources to access backcountry avalanche forecasts, conditions and weather forecasts, how to make a basic emergency plan and discuss conservative travel in avalanche terrain.
We will cover the Avalanche Rescue Course curriculum and provide you with a certificate upon completion if you plan to pursue the Pro Level 1 course. This course meets guidelines set by the American Avalanche Association and also meets guidelines set by the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR). We recommend all backcountry ice climbers refresh with the ARC every two years.
Our outdoor classroom won’t require skis or any specialized equipment, only warm clothing, winter footwear, and ample calories. Although this course focuses on backcountry safety and avalanche rescue for ice climbers, it’s open to anyone who wants to learn and practice these skill sets to increase your backcountry safety margin.
Avalanche hazard is more often than not a serious threat to ice climbers in the backcountry. Most ice climbs found in backcountry settings in the Western U.S., Canada and beyond are exposed to avalanche hazards for extended periods of time. Exposure to potential avalanches is often much greater on ice climbs than it is skiing simply due to the amount of time we’re in that terrain and our inability to move quickly. Ice climbs predominantly form in gullies which are classic terrain traps with large catchments above that accumulate snow from storms and wind. Conditions change rapidly in a winter snowpack. The actual climbing itself is far from the only thing you need to set your focus on.
We‘ll discuss how to identify avalanche terrain with specific precautions and calculated steps backcountry climbers must consider. The primary focus of the course will be on avalanche rescue skills and how to effectively use personal avalanche rescue equipment to perform companion rescue. Not long ago it was rare to find ice climbers wearing transceivers or carrying shovels and probes. That culture is changing and we are staying at the top of our game to be sure you’re as prepared as you need to be to keep enjoying the backcountry for years down the road.
The topics covered, combined with ample hands-on practice will help participants perform critical rescue skills in the event of an avalanche burial. Our systematic approach with professional instruction and coaching will help prepare participants how to use their equipment confidently and become a more self-reliant partner in the backcountry.
Our outdoor classroom won’t require skis or any specialized equipment to access, only warm clothing, winter footwear, ample calories and a positive attitude. A moderate level of fitness is required to hike uphill at 9,500’ for 30 minutes.
LEARNING OUTCOMES AND HANDS ON TRAINING:
- Recognizing and preparing to enter avalanche terrain
- Overview of personal avalanche rescue equipment
- Functionality checks of your personal avalanche rescue equipment
- Basics of an Emergency Plan and group management
- Travel protocols for avalanche terrain
- How to perform group checks of transceivers at the start of each day
- Response and actions if involved in an avalanche (victim or rescuer)
- Fundamentals of organizing and executing an effective search
- How to perform signal, coarse, fine and pinpoint searches with avalanche transceivers
- Setting up scenarios for performing both single burial searches
- Techniques for effective probing and shoveling
- Search techniques for locating burials without beacons
- Overview of first aid and rescue skills needed in actual rescues
- Requesting outside assistance and what to expect
- 7:00am Guide Garage – Welcome and intros, overview, welcome bags
- 7:30am Shuttle to Senator Gulch on the Camp Bird Road
- 8:00am In the Field Training – venue specifics provided upon registration
- 4:00pm Guide Garage – KBYG video, Happy Hour Celebration
COURSE LOCATION AND ANTICIPATED CONDITIONS:
This course will be field-based, all day above Ouray off of the Camp Bird Road(CR 361). If elevated avalanche hazard prevents us from accessing this location, the course will be based in Ouray. Weather at this time of year can be extreme with wind, snowfall and subzero temperatures. Participants must be prepared to be out in winter conditions for 8 hours. Appropriate clothing and equipment is required for standing around with minimal activity while learning and practicing skills. No skis, splitboards or snowshoes are needed however warm winter boots are required. The Camp Bird Road has numerous backcountry ice climbs that are in avalanche terrain and require traveling through avalanche terrain to access and climb. This ideal classroom is a 20 minute drive from Ouray. Round trip transport will be provided.