Saturday, December 11, 2010


Avalanche school, that is. We had two long nights of instruction this week, have been reading for homework, and today had our first field day at St. Mary's Glacier.

First, the weather. It was cold, windy, and snowing. At times visibility was less than 100'. The high was 16°F but with the wind chill was -8°F. In the morning it must have been even cooler.

We did some decision making exercises, practiced searching with beacons, dug snow pits to analyze the snowpack, and practiced probing and digging for victims. (The "victims" were buried pieces of clothing or 1'x1' plywood.)

Very enlightening. It's hard to imagine actually finding someone (in time) who was buried in an avalanche without a beacon. Even with beacons, you first have to find a signal, which could require scanning a large area depending on the size of the slide. Trying to track a signal, probe, or dig on a slope adds to the challenge.

Day two is tomorrow at Berthoud Pass... if the roads stay open. The avalanche report looks pretty bad given all the new snow.

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