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Skiing: Backcountry snowpack touchy in Colorado

Monthly Breckenridge ski patrol talk to focus on backcountry travel techniques and terrain choices

There's plenty of good backcountry powder skiing in Summit County, but it's best to stay on low-angle terrain right now, like this 28-degree slope on Baldy, Photo courtesy Matt Krane.

There’s plenty of good backcountry powder skiing in Summit County, but it’s best to stay on low-angle terrain right now, like this 28-degree slope on Baldy, Photo courtesy Matt Krane.

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CAIC forecaster Tim Brown examines the crown face of a large avalanche in Montezuma Bowl, at Arapahoe Basin. Photo courtesy CAIC.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With forecasters warily eying backcountry avalanche hazards and more snow on the way this week, Breckenridge ski patrollers will focus on safe backcountry travel techniques, route-finding and terrain selection during their monthly talk this Thursday evening (Village at Breckenridge, Tenmile Room, 6 p.m.).

The topic is especially timely following recent close calls and a cycle of natural slides in the backcountry, said Breckenridge ski patroller Matt Krane. Last week, a party of four backcountry travelers were involved with a sizable slide on Peak 6. Continue reading

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Colorado: CAIC Benefit Bash a key fundraiser for backcountry avalanche forecasting and education

Get your CAIC grrove on at the annual Benefit Bash, Nov. 10 at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge.

Grassroots support critical for state avy programs

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Friends of the CAIC sure knows how to time their events, with this year’s CAIC Benefit Bash scheduled to be held Saturday evening, just as the season’s first significant winter storm is forecast to drop the first good batch of powder on the Colorado high country.

This year’s Benefit Bash will once again be held at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center and features live music, tasty food, beer from New Belgium Brewery, and great people all enjoying the massive silent auction and a seemingly endless stream of door prizes.

The goodies include a Monarch season pass, snowcat skiing trips, all sorts of backcountry gear and even a spot on an Alaska heli guide school trip.

The bash has grown to be one of the most important grassroots fundraisers for the CAIC, which relies in part on donations to maintain a robust backcountry forecasting and avalanche awareness program. Last year the event raised about $72,000 and organizer Joe Vandal said the goal this year is $90,000. Continue reading

A-Basin to host backcountry companion rescue class

A participant in last year's Beacon Bowl at A-Basin whips out an avalanche probe pole to try and pinpoint a buried target. Avy experts say practicing companion rescues in scenarios that simulate challenging backcountry conditions is important.

Practicing companion rescues in scenarios that simulate challenging backcountry conditions is important

By Bob Berwyn

*Visit the CAIC home page for links to more information and registration

SUMMIT COUNTY — Knowing how to identify avalanche-prone terrain and recognize the potential for slides is a big part of the backcountry safety equation. But dozens of times each winter, that knowledge isn’t enough. Even backcountry veterans sometimes experience that heart-stopping moment when the world gives way beneath their feet as a seemingly solid snowpack falls apart.

Sometimes it forms a blinding cloud of powder that can blast down the mountain at 150 mph. Other times, the snow can move in grinding refrigerator-size chunks. In either case, if you or one of your companions is buried, most of that snow science goes out the window as you switch to search and rescue mode. How you react in those critical first few minutes may well determine whether that person lives or dies.

But do you know exactly what to do? Your heart is pounding as you switch your beacon from transmit to receive, and even after you’ve wiped the snow from your goggles, you’re still not exactly how many people are buried, and how many are available to search, probe and dig. Continue reading

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