Avalanche rescue course offered in Kamas | ParkRecord.com

Avalanche rescue course offered in Kamas

A group of skiers triggered a slide along the Park City ridgeline last month, causing one of the skiers to become partially buried. The Utah Avalanche Center is hosting a companion rescue course on Feb. 6 in Kamas to teach backcountry users how to use their avalanche gear and perform a rescue on themselves or a friend.

Despite the relatively low amount of snow that has fallen on the Uinta and Central Wasatch Mountains this winter, the risk of a slide occurring is still high. And when caught in the aftermath of an avalanche, every second counts.

All backcountry users – skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers and snowshoers – are encouraged to attend a three-hour avalanche rescue course that the Utah Avalanche Center is hosting at Weller Recreation in Kamas on Feb. 6. The class is $60 per person. Early registration is suggested.

Craig Gordon, a forecaster with the Utah Avalanche Center, said now is the perfect time to take an avalanche rescue course "to have these skills ready to fire once the snow starts flying."

"Everyone should attend these classes," he said. "It's a great introduction on how to use your gear."

The Utah Avalanche Center, along with search and rescue personnel, will help backcountry users practice their rescue skills during the course. The class will cover scene assessment, beacon searching, probing, strategic digging, and packaging and transporting an injured partner.

The class is a "great early-season refresher for experienced backcountry travelers," according to the Utah Avalanche Center.

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"During this class we are going to discuss all aspects of rescue, for a rescue in your own group, to a rescue for someone else's," the website states. "The first step is to not get caught. This is a high-stress situation that we will help you learn to work through quickly and effectively. We will provide you with the tools to manage the scene, work effectively as a team, how to use your equipment and how to manage the victim."

Gordon said the class will provide a "nuts-and-bolts orientation" to avalanche rescues to ensure backcountry users are confident with performing a rescue. He added, "This is perishable skill."

"Even people who have taken a class before and who have hands-on experience should definitely consider taking a refresher course," he said.

The class will be split into two segments, with the first segment taking place inside Weller Recreation. The remainder of the class will be spent outdoors as people are split into groups to work on rescue scenarios, including scene management, avalanche transceivers, transceiver search techniques, probing, shoveling and extricating a live victim.

Participants are required to bring a beacon, shovel, probe and headlamp. They are also encouraged to dress and bring a pack similar to what they would carry in the backcountry. Skies, snowboards or snowshoes won't be needed.

"It does challenge your skills," Gordon said. "But, you get into using your gear and are taught by avalanche and search and rescue professionals. We will be looking at it from a number of different angles. Not having to use the gear is the ticket, but knowing how to use it and having the confidence you got your partner's back is huge."

For more information about the course and to register, go to https://utahavalanchecenter.org/classes/companion-rescue-fundamentals-15.