Avalanche Safety Class

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | January 14, 2006      

Aspen’s community avalanche safety class is this weekend. Our family attended the class session last evening, and we’ll be out in the field today. The evening seminar was taught by Hallsted Morris from the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC). This year Morris didn’t seem to have as much decision making information in his talk, but rather concentrated on basic avalanche mechanics and human factors, that later which were nicely sprinkled throughout the talk as well as covered formally in several outlines. The presentation was attractive and easy to watch. It appeared nicely tailored for the diverse audience, which included everyone from the curious to snomobilers, with the majority being skiers.

Avalanche safety class
Aspen community avalanche safety class, indoors in the evening then in the field next day.

The show still had too much snow science and not enough about how dangerous avalanches actually are, but that improves a bit every year. Showing a few corpses being dug out would really help the presentation, but perhaps that’s not PC or something. Along that line, new this year in Hallsted’s talk was a vid sequence showing a skier triggering an avalanche he died in, but the video is edited so it quits just after the snow fractures, and doesn’t even show the guy being swept away. Unfortunately, the most stunning video in the presentation was some helmet cam footage of a guy triggering a slab then taking a short and mellow ride. The latter made an obvious impact on the audience as a re-run was requested — sadly it was very unrealistic of what really being taken by an avalanche is all about. I’d recommend to Hallsted that the CAIC do something very simple to get more realistic footage: put a helmet cam on a dummy, set the dummy on medium sized avalanche slope, trigger a fairly good sized avy with explosives, then retrieve the camera and footage. Edit resulting footage and include the burial portion. When the avalanche stops during the presentation, turn off the room lights and have everyone sit there in the dark for a few minutes, with a heart beat and breathing sound track for audio. With the lights remaining dim, the life signs would stutter, then stop. Then slowly bring up the house lights. That would make an impact.

Overall turnout was good. But as always, I was surprised at the lack of teenagers attending — kudos to the ones who did, (in my opinion, parents in ski towns should make avy safety training as mandatory as drug education).

I always enjoy the review I get from attending this event, and figure it’s a good thing to cover for blogging and such, as it keeps me current on what slant the avalanche educators are taking. Today we’ll be in the field doing everything from a beacon drill to snow pit study.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


  Your Comments

  Recent Posts

Facebook Twitter Email Instagram Youtube


  • Blogroll & Links

  • Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

    All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

    We include "affiliate sales" links with most of our blog posts. This means we receive a percentage of a sale if you click over from our site (at no cost to you). None of our affiliate commission links are direct relationships with specific gear companies or shopping carts, instead we remain removed by using a third party who manages all our affiliate sales and relationships. We also sell display "banner" advertising, in this case our relationships are closer to the companies who advertise, but our display advertising income is carefully separated financially and editorially from our blog content, over which we always maintain 100% editorial control -- we make this clear during every advertising deal we work out. Please also notice we do the occasional "sponsored" post, these are under similar financial arrangements as our banner advertising, only the banner or other type of reference to a company are included in the blog post, simply to show they provided financial support to WildSnow.com and provide them with advertising in return. Unlike most other "sponsored content" you find on the internet, our sponsored posts are entirely under our editorial control and created by WildSnow specific writers.See our full disclosures here.

    Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

    Switch To Mobile Version