Winter Park Resort donates all proceeds from uphilling program to Grand County nonprofits

More than $70,000 will help organizations provide equipment and resources to help outdoor adventurers stay safe

Winter Park Resort has donated proceeds from their uphilling program to Grand County Search and Rescue, Friends of Berthoud Pass and Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment (C-RAD). Emma is a C-RAD certified avalanche dog, owned by Winter Park Resort Ski Patroller Brian Roman.
Jay Stewart Photography/Courtesy Photo

Three nonprofits dedicated to keeping Grand County recreationists safe have received proceeds from Winter Park Resort’s uphilling program. Grand County Search and Rescue, Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment and Friends of Berthoud Pass each benefitted from proceeds from the sales of the resort’s uphill armbands. Thanks to skiers, snowboarders and snowshoers who hike up the resort’s trails, the resort was able to donate over $70,000.

In a news release, Winter Park Resort stated they are proud to donate to locally based organizations that are helping save lives and provide winter mountain education. The resort allows guests to hike up on many of their open trails during the winter – each uphilling guest purchases a $25 armband, which goes to a good cause.

“The work these organizations do often goes unnoticed, and is challenging physically and mentally,” stated Sky Foulkes, president and COO of Winter Park Resort, in a news release. “We want each organization and their volunteers to know that their efforts are not only recognized but deeply appreciated. Their work is a critical component of our outdoor community, and we are honored to support them.”

Winter Park’s donation to the three nonprofits will help with organizational operations, including training, rescues, and upgrades or replacement of safety gear and equipment.

Search and Rescue is responding to increased calls, as more people recreate in the backcountry.
Grand County Search and Rescue/Courtesy Image

Grand County Search and Rescue

The all-volunteer organization provides emergency backcountry service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It has limited funding channels and relies mostly on community donations to carry out search and rescue operations. Search and Rescue has benefitted from the resort’s uphill skiing program for the last three years. This year’s $50,000 donation is the single largest donation they have ever received.

“GCSAR (Grand County Search and Rescue) will use the money to forward our mission of saving lives through search, rescue and mountain safety education,” search and rescue member Greg Foley stated in a news release. “We are thankful for the ongoing community support from Winter Park that benefits every person we help when they are having a bad day on the mountain.”

Foley stated that they will use the donation to train volunteers, purchase new equipment to make their work safer and more efficient and upgrade their red uniform jackets. Other ongoing projects that will benefit from the donation include replacing their command vehicle and completing the rescue training tower.

In 2022, search and rescue members completed 67 missions (a 12% increase from 2021), is credited with saving at least a dozen lives, assisted 51 people and clocked more than 10,780 volunteer hours. The organization has been the sheriff’s primary search and rescue asset since 1985. They have operated under the sheriff’s office as a Mountain Rescue Association-certified team since 1995. The association is a national organization of about 90 teams that improves the quality, availability and safety of mountain search and rescue.

Search and Rescue also responds to help animals in trouble, like this terrier mix that suffered from altitude sickness when hiking with its owner.
Grand County Search and Rescue/Courtesy Photo

Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment

The organization’s mission is to cultivate, inspire and produce dog teams for successful avalanche search and rescue in the mountains of Colorado. These volunteer teams combine traditional search and rescue methods with specialized avalanche deployment teams to expedite rescue of avalanche victims. It is made up of trained volunteers, and relies solely on individual and community donations for funding.

The organization trains dog teams across Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho. The organization was formed out of tragedy – the 1987 Peak 7 avalanche in Breckenridge that killed four people. After the deadly avalanche, Summit County first responders created Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment – a coordinated response to avalanche rescue, with dog teams at the helm.

The Winter Park Ski Patrol Dog Team has several canine rescuers that have received validation through the organization. Once the dogs are validated, they can assist the sheriff’s office outside of Winter Park Resort. The team currently has three validated dogs that climb into the helicopter when the sheriff requests rescue dogs to the backcountry – Emma, owned by Brian Roman, Biskit owned by Rico LaRocca, and Gravy, owned by Colin Karge. Charlie, owned by Erica Gilbertson, is next in line to receive her validation. 

Friends of Berthoud Pass

This grassroots organization of backcountry enthusiasts is committed to preserving the legacy of public recreation at Berthoud Pass, in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service. Volunteer staff promotes safety education, backcountry access and environmental stewardship through avalanche awareness and safety training. The all-volunteer organization relies solely on donations. In 2003, a group of ski patrollers and backcountry riders came together to make recreating in Berthoud Pass a safe and fun experience for all.

Each year, Friends offers a variety of avalanche awareness classes, followed in mid-winter by a full day on snow session. The hands-on session takes place at Berthoud Pass, where participants head out with field instructors to learn to use beacons, probes and shovels. All courses are free and open to recreators of all abilities.

Their classes follow American Avalanche Association and American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education guidelines. They also provide a number of educational resources and trail guides on their website.

Educators from Friends of Berthoud Pass help spread avalanche awareness while digging snow pits on Berthoud Pass.
Friends of Berthoud Pass/Courtesy Photo
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