First Tracks into the Backcountry
She stepped into her Rubies for the first time. She was a backcountry virgin. Skinning up on the ascent Elle’s, she kept up with the group. Christy had come from Amarillo, Texas, traveled through a storm cycle to Breckenridge for a weekend getaway… the Babes in the Backcountry Introduction to the Backcountry Workshop.
A confident resort skier and mother of 5, driving an F250, she was excited about the challenge. “They don’t get much snow in Amarillo.” (youtube video)
Christy joined 4 others for a two-day course on Basic Backcountry Skills and to demo a full suite of G3 gear:
Skis, Skins, shovels, probes and bindings. The weekend was filled with both field time and indoor classroom sessions covering how to travel safely in the snow-covered backcountry and how to avoid triggering or being caught in an avalanche. It’s all about planning and preparation. If you are cold and hungry or your gear is malfunctioning you may not be paying attention to the signs of Avalanche Hazards.
Day 2 kicked of with Yoga at Meta Yoga Studios (my new yoga studio). The yoga session allowed the women time to center, find balance and tune inward to allow them to have a heightened sense of awareness for their afternoon ski tour. Yoga allows one to tune in rather than tune out, a critical skill for backcountry travel.
Transitioning back to the classroom, the discussion quickly changed from bliss to reality; the topic was Human Factors and how people can cause avalanches by making poor decisions. After reading the local Summit County avalanche report, the decision was made to tailor back their pre-planned route due to the high avalanche hazard warning. It had been snowing and blowing for days and although there was tons of fresh powder, high alpine terrain had gotten hammered and wind-loaded aspects were tenuous. In addition, there were a several suspect buried layers (a sun crust and buried surface hoar) that steered the group away from traveling in steep terrain ( 30-45<) above treeline on the N-S-E and SW aspects.
Some field time was spent practicing with BCA Tracker Beacons and then the Babes headed out for a short tour to apply the new skills. The short-lived beautiful bluebird day slowly transitioned back to cold, cloudy and blowing. Time to layer up, rehydrate with some hot tea and buckle down for the virgin descent. Locked and loaded, skins stowed, packs on backs, goggles on and boots in ski mode, the Babes were ready for their low angle descent. With smiles peering through their well-protected faces, the babes descended one by one, practicing their safe travel techniques. The pure bliss of skiing untracked powder washed over them with each deep yogic breath. These bc virgins got to experience the whoosh, the effortless feeling of floating through the fresh.
On the way back to the classroom, a giddiness fills the car as the Babes Recap the weekend. They are hooked. Armed with new tools and skills they are ready for more. They then leave with tons of knowledge and even more questions. As we know, like anything in life, it’s a long journey and the more you do, the more you learn, and the more you do you learn that there is always more to learn. Be safe out there and take and Avalanche Class.
by Leslie Ross
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