Library Corner: Program teaches avalanche awareness to local youth
Do your kids ski in the backcountry? Side country? Would you like them to make smart skiing choices? Send them to “Know Before You Go,” an avalanche education program geared to teens in sixth through twelfth grades.
The free program is at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1 at the Fraser Valley Library. It is hosted by Jamie Wolter and made available through the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Wolter has been an avalanche educator since the early 90’s. He also leads the search and rescue avalanche courses.
The “Know Before You Go” course is approximately one hour. Participants will understand the destructive power of avalanches and how to avoid them. Skiers and riders will take home some great tools to recognize hazards and perform a rescue. It is an introduction, however, not a comprehensive class.
Although the program is not only for kids and teens, Wolter sees a need to start with younger skiers and riders.
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“I feel like it’s so important to educate the kids in our county—and everywhere, really—but we have these kids that are such phenomenal athletes,” he said.
The temptation to duck a rope or go out of bounds, or even start exploring on Berthoud Pass is real for local kids who have been skiing as long as they have been walking. In most cases, their skiing and riding ability far outweighs their avalanche knowledge, which can lead to trouble. That is what “Know Before You Go” aims to address.
Even with the modest snowfall so far this season, one Montana skier died in an avalanche in early October, in a slide in the southern Madison Range. As backcountry skiing has become more popular, so has the number of skier-triggered avalanche injuries and fatalities.
But Utah, which has heavily promoted Avalanche Awareness classes such as “Know Before You Go,” went without any fatalities last season, proving that more avalanche education can make a difference.
Wolter himself has been involved in 9 avalanche fatality recoveries.
“I would rather not have to do that again,” he said. “It is so preventable.”
No registration is required for this free program, but seating is limited.
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