Bringing Avalanche Awareness to the SheJumps Community

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Written by: Katherine Jondro, Oregon Ambassador

It’s November as I write this. The leaves are still changing in places and the temps are slowly chilling, but there’s snow falling in the mountains and there’s an indisputable buzz in the air. While many are still loving the fall weather, this isn’t for them; this is for all of you powder hounds – checking the higher elevation forecasts daily, snow dancing before bed, and eagerly awaiting your chance to lay your first turns of the season – that is, if you haven’t made the trek up to snow level already. It may still be fall, but let’s be honest: winter is bangin’ on the door.

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“Skierra” demonstrating airbag deployment at the Avalanche Awareness at Gonzaga 12/2015 hosted by Anna Twohig, Spokane, WA Ambassador

As the snow begins to accumulate in the alpine, the inherent risks and avalanche dangers grow considerably more and more. It’s never too early to jump on the avalanche safety bandwagon, and there’s no such thing as having too much avalanche education. We at SheJumps have been working hard to create fun and encouraging opportunities for you and your adventure buddies to learn, refresh, and share avalanche best practices before your next trip to the mountain – it’s always good to “Know Before You Go”!

A few weeks ago marked the beginning of SheJumps’ avalanche safety education for the 2016/17 season, with Gonzaga University playing host to the first of many women-specific Avalanche Awareness Evenings throughout the Pacific Coast. With room for over 180 ladies, this will be one of the largest avalanche events all season!

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Spokane Avalanche Awareness 12/2015

If you weren’t able to make it to this kick-off, don’t fret! SheJumps has got you covered; here’s a list of all of our upcoming SheJumps Avalanche Awareness Evenings:
November 3, 2016: Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA
December 13, 2016: Arc’teryx Portland Store, OR
December 18, 2016: Broken Top Bottle Shop, Bend, OR
February 9, 2017: evo Portland, OR

Looking for a little more? With the help of awesome, local companies, SheJumps has organized the following women-specific, on-snow avalanche education courses:

  • December 6, 2016: Salt Lake City, UT- Women’s Know Before You Go Avalanche Awareness Talk
  • December 9-11, 2016: Seattle, WA – Yurt-Based AIARE Level 1 Course with Cascade Powder Guides
  • December 12, 2016: Alta, UT- Women’s Free Beacon Clinic
  • December 18, 2016: Bend, OR – One-day Intro to Avalanche Safety with Oregon Ski Guides
  • January 19 and January 21, 2017: Salt Lake City, UT and Brighton, UT- Women’s Backcountry 101
  • January 20-22, 2017: Libby, MT – AIARE Level 1 with Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education (SOLE)
  • January 25-26, 2017: Seattle, WA – AIARE Level 1 Course with Mountain Madness
  • February 12, 2017: Mt. Hood, OR – One-day Intro to Avalanche Safety with Oregon Ski Guides
  • Feb 24-26th, 2017: Vail, CO – AIARE Avalanche Level 1 with Backcountry Babes
  • March 12-15, 2017: Seattle, WA – Yurt-Based AIARE Level 2 Course with Cascade Powder Guides
  • DATE TBD: Bend, OR – AIARE Level 1 Course with Oregon Ski Guides
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    SheJumps is committed to bringing the information, tools, and resources to women so that we can all explore the backcountry safely. These events are also a great way to get out there, meet new ladies, and make fun adventure plans with like-minded snow fiends. If you are completely new to out-of-bounds access and avalanche safety education, start with a FREE Avalanche Awareness evening near you and work your way up! If you’re not sure where you fall, or what course to take, here’s a little more information about each type of course offered:

    Avalanche Awareness Evenings

    This is a great opportunity to begin learning about avalanche terrain, or brush up on the basics before the next season of backcountry shredding. One-hour presentation topics will include identification of avalanche terrain, why and how avalanches happen, best practices for travel in avalanche terrain, local and regional resources to use throughout the season, and upcoming opportunities for more in-depth avalanche education.

    One-Day Intro to Avalanche Safety

    This course is the intermediary step between basic avalanche awareness evenings and a multi-day Level 1 course. This AIARE-developed course is designed for skiers/riders who frequent avalanche terrain via lift access from ski areas and easily accessible backcountry trailheads and highway passes. Perfect for ladies who are venturing into avalanche terrain along with others, but who don’t typically bother to discuss the avalanche concerns due to the familiarity of the terrain they are in. Don’t be complacent!

    In this course, you’ll learn how to identify avalanche terrain, how to use local and regional resources to make decisions about where and when to ski, the importance of trip planning, how to spot ‘red flags’, as well as an introduction to companion rescue and related gear. This course has some classroom and on-snow time. Participants must come prepared to travel on snow.

    AIARE Level 1

    “The AIARE 1 is a 3 day/24 hour introduction to avalanche hazard management. Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn rescue techniques required to find and dig up a buried person (if an avalanche occurs and someone in the party is caught).

    A final debrief includes a knowledge quiz to test student comprehension and to give feedback to instructors on instructional tools. Students are encouraged and counseled on how to apply the skills learned and told that no course can fully guarantee safety, either during or after course completion. A link is made to a future AIARE 2 course.” – AIARE, www.avtraining.org

    AIARE Level 2

    “The AIARE 2 course is a 4-day program that provides backcountry leaders the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills. This course also includes the introductory and prerequisite components for the professional progression: the AIARE 3 certificate.

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    The AIARE 2 builds from the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in the level one and adds to it the evaluation of factors critical to stability evaluation.” – AIARE, www.avtraining.org

    For more information on these courses, check out AIARE. There are always ways to progress your avalanche education, and you can never have too much knowledge before heading out. The risks of avalanches are very real, and even the most experienced backcountry travelers can trigger or be caught in an avalanche – so ensuring you have the tools and skill set needed to travel safely is imperative no matter the level you’re at. Make sure to check out the SheJumps site for more information on all of our upcoming events, and don’t wait to register for courses you are interested in, as spots are quickly filling up! THINK SNOW, and see you on the skin track…

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    Washington AIARE 1 with Mountain Madness 2/2016

    If you have any questions or inquiries, please contact your local SheJumps Regional Coordinator.