Alpine Touring has become increasingly popular in the mountains in the last few years. It is a great way to get out and enjoy the snow without the crowds at the ski resort. It also allows you to access terrain that might otherwise be out of reach. Danny and I have been getting into the sport slowly but surely as we love to bring our dog, Playa, with us whenever we can. However, we are fully aware that there are inherent risks with skiing in the back country. CAIC has been a hugely important resource for us in understanding the avalanche danger. Not only do they put out daily avalanche danger reports which are vital to reading the terrain, but also they are a great resource in learning about avalanche safety. No backcountry excursion should be without CAIC’s forecast, Beacon, Probe, and Shovel.
The fundraiser this evening helps to provide funds for continuing the great work that they are already doing. The fundraiser begins at 5pmtonight at Breckenridge’s Riverwalk center. There will be dinner, drinks, silent auctions and tons of give aways. Buy your tickets now at www.avalanche.state.co.us/caic-benefit-bash/ as it always sells out. I hope to see you there! (And if it is sold out please still consider giving CAIC your support because again without them the Backcountry would be even harder to access).
More Avalanche Awareness Information
Colorado’s avalanche terrain is inherently more unstable because it is a continental snowpack:
Relatively shallow snowpack with settled mid-winter snow depths less than 5 feet (1.5 m)
Less frequent storms with lower-density snow than the maritime climate
Long periods of drought with very cold temperatures during winter
Temperatures variable throughout winter, leading to more varied layers within the snowpack
Both direct action avalanches and delayed-action avalanches are common and often involve layers deep within the snowpack; the pack can remain unstable and avalanches may be triggered even weeks after last significant storm
It is very important to have a basic knowledge of the snowpack before you enter the backcountry in Colorado because of this. The Rockies offer an endless playground of activities including snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and skinning, just to name a few, and with the right knowledge and acceptance of the risks involved the backcountry can be an amazing experience for everyone.
There are a ton of educational opportunities in the State of Colorado. I highly recommend an AIARE Avy Level 1 course. This level teaches you have to read the terrain, understand the avalanche forecasts, use and test your beacon, probe, and shovel, and gets you familiar with the mindset needed to make informed in the moment decisions.
CAIC is a great resource for finding the right course for you. Here is a Calendar of their education opportunities. These classes are not only informative, but also very fun!
There’s so much more out there than resort skiing, and Summit County has endless opportunities for backcountry exploration. Get out there, have fun, and most importantly be safe!