Silverton Mountain to host new avalanche awareness course for snow professionals

Comments by Thacher Stone/

Through the combined efforts from snow professionals Aaron Brill (Silverton Mountain Guides), Dean Cummings (H20 Guides) and Reggie Crist (First Ascent), there is a new educational workshop promoting avalanche awareness. The course will be hosted by Silverton Mountain, CO on January 24-26, 2015. The instruction will stray away from traditional snow-science methodology to focus more than 60 years of combined on-snow experiences from professionals. Participants will experience a day of top down snow safety assessments, a day of mountain operations for guides and ski patrollers and an optional day of helicopter operations training. For more info on the course, see the press release and course information below.

Press Release, Silverton Mountain, CO:

After the recent string of ski patroller and ski guide accidents, snow professionals are re-evaluating the way snow safety, guiding, patrolling, avalanche control, and mountain work is learned. The traditional training curriculum has not kept up with the growth of the sport across bigger mountains, expert terrain expansion and increased skier ability.

Aaron Brill of Silverton Mountain Guides, Dean Cummings of H20 Guides, and Reggie Crist of First Ascent have come together to present a one-of-a-kind educational workshop: Practical Protocols For Snow Professionals / Steep Life Workshop.

Traditional Avalanche and Ski Guide Training has been focused on snow science and snowpit-based methodology, but this leaves out many important practical protocol techniques. In this workshop Dean Cummings, Reggie Crist, and Aaron Brill will share the techniques and thought processes they have developed and used in the field. With more than 60+ years of combined experience, this team has spent a lot of time innovating in the mountains, and has gained experiences and insights that are essential for ski/snowboard guides, ski patrol and aspiring professionals. Anyone that accesses mountains from the top down, or spends time in avalanche terrain, can benefit from this cutting edge workshop offered at Silverton Mountain.

By attending the workshop attendees will:

-Gain a better understanding of how to read mountains,
-Learn to skillfully recognize hazards
-Develop a thought process for working larger lines in steeper terrain

Reggie, Aaron, and Dean have spent decades developing and honing specialized steep techniques used while working, living, and training ski/snowboard guides in Steep Mountain Terrain. The goal is to share their firsthand learning experiences with the industry that they love via an insightful based educational method.

This session will emphasize engaging all the senses during observational assessment techniques to teach guides/patrollers to collect information and clues from changing surroundings. It will also challenge patrollers to think like guides, and guides to think like patrollers—an invaluable awareness on the mountain, and one that is often overlooked. Ski guides may never get to learn from the avalanches that a blasting patroller regularly sees and triggers (unless the guide is doing a terrible job by frequently triggering avalanches); and patrollers may be leaving themselves vulnerable without the tools to assess the slopes as a backcountry ski guide would.

Course Information:

Silverton Mountain, Colorado — January 24-26, 2015.

The three day protocol training is presented by Dean Cummings of H20 Guides, Reggie Crist of First Ascent, and Aaron Brill of Silverton Mountain Guides.

Requirements: The training workshop is useful for anyone currently working in avalanche terrain, but is most helpful for professional ski patrollers and professional ski/snowboard guides working in mid or high alpine terrain. Attendees should have an existing level 2 avalanche certification or equivalent, professional patrol or ski/board guiding experience, or be an aspiring professional with industry experience.

Optional third day heli instruction: The third day (optional heli add-on day Jan 26th) is focused on advanced helicopter operations for heli ski guides and aspiring pros with an emphasis on visual observations and on-the-go snow conditions and stability assessment.

Course Outline:

Top Down Snow Safety Assessments (Day 1):

– Thought processing for working in complex terrain for patrol/guides.
– Reading mountains, weather and working with nature.
– Why using snow science as go/no go could kill you.
– Usage of observational snow assessment techniques.
– Proper timing of objectives.
– Coping with unusual avalanche cycles/problems.
– Review of recent patrol and guide avalanche accidents, and lessons learned from events.
– Importance of OSHA regulations.

Mountain Operations For Guides/Patrol (Day 2):

– Micro climate weather and snow stability forecasting.
– Summit and ridge-top protocols.
– Visual & verbal terrain management technique and mountain communication for patrol/guides.
– Importance of clear instructions while leading. discussion with clients or your patrol route partner.
– Utilizing hand signals as effective tools.
– Guides thinking as patrollers and patrollers like guides when moving on mountains.
– Non explosive stability testing.
– Proper use of ski cuts and techniques for high consequence terrain.
– Managing demanding client expectations while maintaining safety about ski/boarding techniques based on surface conditions and snow stability.
– Working in terrain traps.
– Properly gearing up.
– Testing your forecast—making a personal forecast of a specific slope and then using of actual helicopter blasting on the specific slope to test your forecast accuracy. Will it produce, and where will your crown initiate?

Helicopter Operations (Optional Add-On Day 3, Jan 26):

– Tools and methods for in-flight rapid assessment of helicopter ski terrain.
– Load manifest procedures.
– Guide aircraft preflight procedures.
– Aircraft loading procedures taking into account power to weight ratio.
– Landing zone selection and LZ and PZ preparation.
– Pilot training and analysis via field testing.
– Utilization of toe in landings and advanced helicopter procedures. Accounting for winds, power reserve, portion within fuel cycle, client training and testing.
– Use of risk management matrix.
– Tools and methods for expert skier/boarder group management.
– Tools and methods for group management of pro skiers/boarders.
– Helicopter avalanche control basics.
– Helicopter techniques for extrication of injured skiers/boarders.

Pricing:

$225 for the 2-Day workshop Jan 24-25.
$525 for the 3-Day workshop and includes the additional helicopter operations day, Jan 26th with two heli drops for helicopter field instruction.

Logistics:

The workshop begins 8am on January 24th in Silverton, Colorado at 1069 Greene St with classroom instruction. Field sessions begin mid-day Jan 24th at Silverton Mountain. Participants should be prepared for extended time outdoors and on ridgetops at 13,000’. Be sure to carry water/food for entire day, guide pack and downhill gear. Lift uploads included with price.

Registration:

To book your spot in this exciting training opportunity, please visit www.silvertonmountain.com to register. For any questions or special considerations please email info@silvertonmountain.com.