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Free Avalanche Awareness Class


Yesterday we went to REI to attend a free Avalanche Awareness Class.  Wasn’t sure what to expect or how in detail the class will be, but we decided to take advantage of the local REI and see what it was about.  The class was 2 hours long and was taught by a guy who used to guide in AK.  The class consisted of a 2 hr power point presentation that went over basic avalanche information such as the number of deaths, how people trigger avalanches, the terrain you have to watch for, and snow conditions.  Of course since this is a free class, they didn’t go into depth about any of the above subjects, but it was a way for people to become aware of the dangers of being in the backcountry.  Plus we got a free shirt!  The guy brought some of his avy gear with him such as his beacon, probe, and shovel for us to see at the end of class.  However, since the class was from 6-8 we were starving at the end and wanted to go home and eat dinner.  Should’ve had something to eat.

So the power point presentation was kind of boring and seemed haphazardly put together.  I didn’t really see a flow at all of the subjects being covered and the information could’ve been presented better if there was a clear outline of what was going to be covered.  He did show us couple of videos of people being caught in avalanches and that just looks scary.  The point of view videos especially.  You can see the cracks showing up and then all white and you can tell that the person is tumbling because it will go bright and then dark over and over again.  Definitely something to be fearful of when out in the backcountry.

I found out that REI will be offering a level 1 Avalanche Course this winter.  8hrs of classroom instruction over 2 days and then 2 field days out in the Eastern Sierra in Bishop.  I do eventually want to take avalanche courses so I’m more prepared when I eventually venture out into the backcountry.  The cost of the course is $335…so it’s a bit steep for me right now.  I’m planning on taking this course next season when I’m done with school.  Also a book they recommended which I already have is Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper.  That book is really informative.  I plan to reread that again so I can absorb more of the information and understand it better in a second pass.

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