Big thanks to Backcountry Access for sponsoring this avalanche education content. Check out the additional plethora of avalanche safety resources on their website.
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.
|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.