SheJumps Into Avalanche Awareness Clinic Spokane: Know Before You Go – Recap

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Winter is finally upon us and the SheJumpers and HeJumpers of eastern Washington are starting their ski season off right! On November 5th Spokane hosted its fourth SheJumps event: an Intro to Avalanche Awareness Clinic, taught by HeJumpers Kevin Davis of I.P.A.C. (Idaho Panhandle Avalanche Center), with Larry Banks and Mike Brede of Panhandle Backcountry. The three hour class targeted newer backcountry travelers and also served as a refresher for the more expierenced backcountry ethusiasts. We had a fantastic turnout for the evening, with eighty women signing up for this clinic hosted by Gonzaga University and Gonzaga Outdoors! All participants got goodie bags with chapsticks from our sponsors at EcoLips, snacks, stickers, and avalanche safety cards and handouts from our sponsors. Volunteers for our event scored some sweet Girafficorn swag as well as some delicious backcountry GEO coffee packs from our sponsors at Little Red Wagon Coffee!

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For only $12 a ticket, our instructors covered a lot of information in a short amount of time, including teaching students how to recognize avalanche danger and how to reduce their risk when traveling in the backcountry. They also covered how to check the avalanche report online, how to choose backcountry partners, safe route selection, good communication, and also they demonstrated how to properly use all the essential avalanche safety tools travelers should have in their backcountry arsenal (beacon, shovel, probe, avalanche airbag, etc.) We had a lot of great questions asked by attendees and the number of thoughtful and complicated queries showed the definite need for a more advanced class, such as an AIARE Level 1 Course for many of the women. For me, this was one of the most exciting parts of the clinic – to see the wheels start turning and everyone’s “avalanche brains” switch on. I could see that for many of the women, this clinic was going to be the first step of many in their newfound backcountry pursuits.

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It was also nice to be reminded that it is never too late (or too early) to get educated about safety in the backcountry.  I was pleased to see a whole range of ages at our avalanche clinic! We even had a dad (a “HeJumper”) come with his young daughter and another parent bring her pre-teen daughter to begin the lifelong process of avalanche education. These young ladies got to help our instructors demonstrate the use of the avalanche air bags and we had other volunteers use transceivers to locate beacons hidden in the auditorium. It was very much an interactive class with hands-on demonstrations and many question and discussion opportunities between instructor and student.

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There was also a lot of stoke built up around the amazing raffle we were able to throw together with the help of our generous sponsors at G3, Disidual, Pallas Snowboards, Tailgate Industries, Barre at the Studio, Farm Girl Fit, Wild Walls, Fitness Fanatics, Fourth Avenue Chiropractic, and Arbor Snowboards – just to name a few!

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Our sponsors at Spark R&D went above and beyond, donating a pair of purple splitboard bindings with custom Girafficorn logos engraved on them! Our sponsors at Outdoor Research also hooked it up l, sending us a box of ski jackets, pants, hats, and puffies galore!

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Mervin MFG really outdid themselves as well, by donating one of the grand prizes: a GNU splitboard, complete with pink and purple unicorn graphics! We had an impressive amount of swag to raffle off and most people walked out with something rad to take home.

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Living in Spokane, it has always been necessary to travel at least 5 hours away (minimum) in order to attend any kind of women-specific outdoor education course like this one, and I have never attended one even close to this size (did I mention that 80 women signed up?!) Especially with this being only our fourth event, it was very exciting to see this many women come together and take that first jump into a field that is mostly male dominated.  It was really special to me that Spokane was able to host this clinic and that we had so much interest from local women just starting out in backcountry. Making events like this happen in my hometown is one of the reasons I became a SheJumps Ambassador and it just reaffirms my belief that the women of eastern Washington and northern Idaho are in need of more opportunities like this one. My hope is that this clinic will be just one of many chances for local women to take their outdoor safety and education into their own hands! Our Intro to Avalanche Safety Clinic was so much fun and because we had such a positive response from it we are now hosting an all-women’s AIARE Level 1 course in January in partnership with S.O.L.E. (Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education)! You can learn more here.

I hope I see you at our next event!

Anna Twohig

Spokane Ambassador

11/30/15

BIG thanks to our sponsors!

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