Big thanks to Backcountry Access for sponsoring this avalanche education content. Check out the additional plethora of avalanche safety resources on their website.
Had a chance to try out our local “Beacon Basin” yesterday. This one is on top of Aspen Mountain above the eponymous town in Colorado. Created with resources from Backcountry Access, Aspen Ski Company and Powder to the People (a local backcountry access advocacy group), our “Basin” has four transmitters with on-off switches. You can run all at once for a multi-burial practice, or do one at a time.
|Backcountry skiing avalanche safety training at Beacon Basin, Aspen Mountain, Colorado.|
The ‘Basin schooled us. Our rough searching was good, but we both found that honing in on the fine search was something we needed to practice. What’s hard is knowing when to quit the beacon fine search and start using a probe. When seconds could mean life or death for someone buried, you don’t want to be dinking around with trying to narrow your fine search down by three inches. I was always much better at this with full analog mode beacons. Old dog’s new tricks need practice.
Aspen area snow report: Did some backcountry skiing behind Aspen Mountain — we were amazed at how much less snow their was than in the west central Elk Mountains where we usually ski, and how much more unstable it was. In our one pit we found a scary layer of depth hoar, and the pack was super thin. A solid layer of frozen sintered crystals next to the ground was a totally unusual feature, as the depth hoar layer was on top of this, rather than on the ground as it usually is. The hoar crystals were totally loose and our shovel sheer easily broke on that layer. If we get some snow avalanches will be rockin’ and rollin’ on any slope where this layer exists and has not been ski compacted or boot packed.