Friends of Berthoud Pass Avalanche Awareness

09 Oct, 2008

Last night I drove out to Winter Park to attend my first Avalanche Awareness course.  I talked my friends John and Amy into joining along for the experience and to help become more aware since we all have gone backcountry and plan to ride more backcountry in the future. 
Friends of Berthoud Pass offers up backcountry awareness here in Colorado specifically around Berthoud Pass just off of Winter Park.  The best part is they offer “low cost, high quality backcountry awareness” and it’s great to see affordable backcountry courses that don’t cost an arm and a leg.  
Last night’s course discussed the basics of avalanche and backcountry awareness in an indoor bar setting.  It was free to attend (other than buying your beers) lasting 2 hours and was a good prep talk before hitting the snow in the winter for the on-snow sessions.  
This will be my first year going more into the backcountry and preparing myself for the equipment and practicing so if something happens…I am more prepared.  I think the best thing I learned from last night was that picking your buddies in the backcountry is important and your life is in their hands.  If something goes wrong, you want someone familiar with the equipment, with checking snowpack and who can save your life.  I also want to make sure I am that person for my friends that I ride with.  
The on-snow session will be in January so I’m planning to attend that to get more hands on experience and by then I should have my own backcountry equipment to become familiar with.    
They discussed the myths about Avalanches and one caught my eye because of the recent video from Rome.  The myth was that terrain is safe if someone had gone before you…and that’s not true, your line can still trigger an avalanche.  Over at Rome snowboards, their AM team rider Randall Stacy was caught in an avalanche in bounds in Argentina on a line that someone had already rode down and yes it’s caught on camera.  The avalanche is at the 2:30 mark and worth checking out.  
I definitely learned new things tonight along with some basics I had acquired from reading Backcountry books.  This year it’ll be putting it on-snow and really becoming more prepared out in the backcountry.
Here are a list of upcoming dates for the off-snow avalanche awareness sessions in Colorado:
  • Wed. Oct. 15 in Boulder, location tba
  • Wed. Oct. 22 in Denver, The Oriental Theater
  • Wed. Oct. 29 in Ft. Collins, location tba
  • Wed. Nov. 12 in Boulder, location tba
  • Wed. Nov. 19 in Denver, location tba
  • Wed. Dec. 10 in Winter Park at The Pub
For more information, check out Friends of Berthoud Pass

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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1 Comment

  1. Lou G.
    October 09, 2008

    After watching the avalanche that happened right on Mammoth’s face a few years back I know that nothing is perfectly ‘safe’.

    I was thinking it would be a perfect time to drop cornice, then I’m noticing fresh tracks from the top at 1pm on a sunny windless afternoon and Ski Patrol going apeshit.

    They managed to find everyone but that’s a perfect story to help quash that myth, here was an avalanche on a pretty popular run in the middle of a typical day… and if I had gone up sooner I could have been in it.

    One thing I’m definitely looking for heading up to Colorado is to take a few backcountry safety classes as I have no experience with true powder… haha. Thanks for the recommendation.

    What happened to Randall was insane, it is an absolute miracle he survived. Part of it was definitely the reaction time of his crew.