CMC + NSP Avalanche Course Recap

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This past weekend, the National Ski Patrol and CMC geared up and headed outside for two full field days to conclude the Level 1 avalanche course.

Day 1: Saturday, January 7. Instructors and students headed to St. Mary’s Glacier for a day of analyzing snowpits, using beacons to locate buried beacons and learning about decision-making in avalanche terrain.

Day 2: Sunday, January 8. A much longer hike into the backcountry along the Second Creek Trail on the north side of Berthoud Pass led instructors and students into a winter wonderland (pictured below).

Students rotated between stations that focused on analyzing snowpits, making good decisions, finding beacons, immediate search training and complex immediate searches. The final exercise (complex immediate searches) acted as real-life scenarios with multiple burials–beacons and wetsuits were buried in the snow and students were instructed to locate them as quickly and efficiently as possible in the midst of chaos.

At the end of the long, snowy day, students were given certificates of completion at the trailhead, while instructors were applauded for their hard work and dedication.

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Along the Second Creek Trail on the north side of Berthoud Pass

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Instructor Jordan Lipp (left) teaches students how to dig and analyze snowpits to study the many layers

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Students got down on their hands and knees when they approached buried beacons, before they started digging to find them

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Instructor Cindy Gagnon (right) teaches students how to read the information displayed on their beacons before beginning another beacon-finding exercise

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Instructor Lin Ballard points to avalanche terrain, explaining to students how to identify dangerous slopes and estimate safe distances from them

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The view from Broome Hut along Second Creek Trail on the north side of Berthoud Pass. Students traveled up to the hut during one of their rotations to study the terrain and (thankfully) warm up for a few minutes.

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The weekend concluded with the presentation of certificates to students and applause for the volunteer instructors.

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