With about six months left in the ski season, ski and snowboarders are sick of staring at the freshies on top of Loveland Pass, not daring to go out, in fear of the avalanches they've heard so much about. Not to mention the annoyance of paying the $81 for a lift ticket to Vail, just to discover the powder flattened by unsuspecting tourists.
The only thing holding adventurous snow riders back from experiencing a miraculous day in the mountains, with no one around but buddies and a six-pack at the bottom, is images of being hopelessly buried under a massive pile of snow.
However, visiting the Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol (DPSP) next week could very well put a curb to skiers' fears.
DPSP is holding its final Level 1 Avalanche course over the next two weeks. $100 will take care of learning all of the basics when it comes to avalanche evaluation and rescue operation, along with general backcountry safety and preparedness.
The course consists of two Thursday night classes followed by an all-day field class applying everything that was learned on a trail near Cameron Pass.
The classroom portion of the course teaches how terrain, weather and snow pack contribute to avalanche hazards, and how to use this knowledge for making decisions in the field. It also covers the ever-present human factors involved in the decision-making process which is the common factor involved in avalanche related 'accidents.'
Additionally, how to properly use an avalanche beacon and the best steps to take if the snow actually does slide will be taught during the second classroom session.
Here, students will learn how to dig snow pits to check for snow depth, stability and strength, practice probing for buried buddies and perform various rescue scenarios.
After graduation from the course students receive a diploma, become eligible for an Avalanche 2 course and will be qualified for participating in organized rescue operations.
The DPSP has been voluntarily patrolling the Cameron Pass area for the past fifteen years and is involved in several rescues a year. The patrol was formed following the 1990 announcement that the National Park Service was going to close the Hidden Valley ski area in Rocky Mountain National Park. The crew consists of twenty-five patrollers/instructors who regularly maintain the snow station at the Zimmerman Lake Trailhead along with keeping the Colorado Avalanche Information Center updated on the current snow conditions. They have also recently been added to the state-wide availability list, which has increased their calls substantially.
Eric Foster, Diamond Peaks ski patroller for the past five years, says taking the Avalanche 1 course is highly recommended if someone is looking to do any backcountry recreation. He says that in general, if a slope is at an angle of 15 degrees or more, it has the potential of sliding, and for that, one must be prepared and know how to handle the situation.
Anyone interested in attending the Avalanche 1 course next week can contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cost: $100 and the rest of your life
Location: Larimer County Sheriff's Office Emergency Services Center and Cameron Pass
Dates: Thursday Feb. 9th, 16th and Saturday Feb. 18th