Grand Huts offers avalanche awareness class in Berthoud Pass backcountry |

Grand Huts offers avalanche awareness class in Berthoud Pass backcountry

Grand County and the Berthoud Pass area especially are backcountry skiing hotspots.

Our close proximity to the Denver metro area allows thousands of folks from the Front Range to ascend the mountain passes each year to explore the snowy wilderness along the continental divide. Deaths in the backcountry are, unfortunately, common and even those with extensive experience can use a little refresher on safety.

Next Wednesday, Dec. 9, the Grand Huts Association in conjunction with the Fraser Valley Recreation District and supported by the U.S. Forest Service will offer an all day avalanche awareness class that will be held in the backcountry area near the Broome Hut. Bill Ross, who has 20 years experience training people in avalanche safety and awareness, will be teaching the class. Ross described the instructional tutorial as a refresher course for those already trained in avalanche awareness or an opportunity to for someone who has never taken such classes to get a taste of what a full Level 1 avalanche awareness class would entail.

“With this class I want to wet somebody’s whistle enough that they want to take a level one class,” Ross said with a laugh. “Or I want to scare them enough to stay home instead.”

Ross was dead serious when talking about the dangers of avalanches in the backcountry. “What scares me is all the people buying a whole bunch of gear and not being prepared in other ways. It’s fine to have a shovel and probe and all that stuff but if you aren’t making good decisions you can still die.”

The avalanche awareness class will begin at 9 a.m. at the Broome Hut and goes all day. There is a $50 fee to cover an overnight stay in the Broome Hut. Ross will also be hosting another avalanche awareness class at the Broome Hut on Jan. 7.

“You can have all the equipment in the world,” said Ross. “But if you make a wrong decision and get buried under a meter of snow you have about 15 minutes.”

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