Rau: Did the dance or the snow come first? | SkyHiNews.com

Rau: Did the dance or the snow come first?

Diana Lynn Rau
Grand Nordic Corner

Diana Lynn Rau

Ah, the Snow dances are working. I love it when it's a couple inches at a time – my back suffers much less from snow shoveling! But the storm track has definitely switched back in our favor, or should I say Denver's favor. And Denver doesn't even want the snow like we want it. They don't know what to do with it. But we do. We go outside and love it.

Our roads are also slick but locals are able to handle it better. I know our road departments are much better dealing with it. I'd rather drive Berthoud Pass any day than I-70. But any driver must be aware that four-wheel drive means nothing in icy conditions, that speed is your enemy when the roads are slick, and that the road needs your attention – not cell phones and the like.

The same applies in the backcountry. The snow is fabulous but the traveler needs to be aware of his surroundings. Earlier snow and thaw cycles have made fracture layers that can be deadly. Avalanches have already claimed lives. Shovels, beacons, probes and safety devices like AvaLungs are not a license to go where you please. Consider your terrain and the snow history and the experience of your skiing party. Have a plan and talk to each other. Have the proper gear but cross dangerous slopes individually instead of in your group.

We have one of the best Search and Rescue Teams of anywhere in the U.S. right here in Grand County. Greg Foley from Grand County Search and Rescue is writing columns for this paper containing excellent information that backcountry travelers need to pay attention to. Human factors are considered the primary element in avalanche fatalities, especially when the victims were knowledgeable and experienced. Remember, nature always wins.

Please always travel with others. Take extra food, water, and clothing and familiarize yourself with the area into which you are traveling. Above all, let someone know where you are going and your expected return. Think about the conditions and communicate with each other. We want all to enjoy our fabulous wilderness, but return safely to families and friends.

Upcoming events

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This weekend is packed starting with the free Sons of Norway Barnelopet for kids at the YMCA Legget building on Saturday, Feb. 28. Registration starts 9 a.m. with free lessons before the actual 1k, 2.5k and 5k races begin at 11:30 a.m. No preregistration required. Every finisher gets a medal! Special rates available at SMR Nordic Center for ski equipment.

Or go to the Foxy Freestyle at Grand Lake Nordic Center on Saturday, Feb. 28, with registration starting 8 a.m., kids race 10 a.m., and the 15k freestyle and 5k adaptive/Intermediate races at 10:30 a.m. Call 970-627-8008. Race proceeds benefit NSCD.

And cap it off with the Progressive Fundraising Dinner for Grand Huts on Saturday evening, Feb. 28, at the Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Center starting 5:30 p.m. for a five-course meal, silent auction and live music by Sasquatch Mountain Projector. Cost is $60 for adults and $20 for children. Tickets are still available at http://www.Grand Huts.org We've got to get plans going for the next hut in Grand County.

And the best for early March – the Annual Snow Mountain Stampede weekend March 7 and 8. Freestyle races including 42k, 21k, 10k, and kids race will be Saturday with barbecue Lunch. The Classic Races for the same distances plus barbecue picnic will be Sunday. For more information and course maps, visit http://snowmountainranch.org/nordic-center/nordic-center-races-and-events. To register go to http://tinyurl.com/kfmvz57. Avoid last minute race fee increases and register now.

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