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Old 09-30-2012, 07:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Level 1 Avalanche Training in Denver

I plan to become Level 1 certified before/during this winter. I tried researching where I could take the course and only found this class which is based in Golden:

AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course :: Renaissance Adventure Guides

Does anyone know of courses in Denver? Also, I know it's all the same information, but did anyone have a good/bad experience with their training?
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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There are two companies that I recommend in Colorado. First and foremost they serve on the advisory board for Friends of Berthoud Pass. Second, their instructors are nothing short of best of the best.

Alpine World Ascents based out of Boulder is the Denver front range guys. They teach their on snow portion at Berthoud Pass. Which if you are getting into earn your turns backcountry, is ground zero. It also happens to be a world class spot to learn at. Local too. Markus Beck is the owner and is recognized as one of the best there is in the Avalanche field. In short, he is a bad ass.

The second outfit I'd recommend is Silverton Avalanche School. Based out of Silverton of course. You'll do your field work on Red Mountain Pass. A proving ground with lots of avalanche terrain. I did my level 2 with SAS. These guys basically set the model by which all other avalanche schools are measured. They are that good. Ben Pritchard and Chris Landry are frequent instructors of their's. Best of the best. I am privileged to have had instruction from them.

I have no experience with Renaissance, but they do claim to teach AIARE so that is a good sign of quality.

Finally, I am not sure how big into the whole backcountry thing you want to get. I've spent over a decade playing bc almost exclusively now. Obviously I have a passion for it. Friends of Berthoud Pass does offer free basic avalanche awareness courses and a free on snow weekend. I serve on executive team and as an on snow instructor for basic avalanche awareness. Classes haven't been announced yet, but will be soon. There are several in the Denver area. Worth a couple hours of your time and serves as a great prep for a Level I course. Also, pick up Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper if you haven't already. Read it before you take a Level I. You will get so much more out of the course if you do.

You're approaching this the right way no doubt. Lots to learn, but it also happens to be fairly fun to learn. Especially when you get out on snow. If you want to get out splitting at Bert and other spots, let me know.
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Old 09-30-2012, 10:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the detail, I really appreciate it! I have been doing online avalanche awareness stuff for awhile now and am looking to get on the snow and practice with a class, that's why I'm interested in Level 1. I would definitely check out an in person awareness class though, that sounds very worthwhile. I'm planning a trip to Silverton this year and would like to be prepared for any thing that could happen there.
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Old 10-01-2012, 09:47 AM   #4 (permalink)
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To be honest, if you are just riding at the Silverton Ski area, avalanche training is not really needed. I know they "require" you to have avalanche gear and have a working knowledge of it. Have they ever had an avalanche at the ski area that has taken out guests? Nope. That is because it's controlled just like any other ski area. What they planned on doing and what really happened are two different things. Plus if you are not there during the shoulder seasons you're being guided. They are not going to take you to any spot that has any sort of real avalanche threat. Of course a slide could happen, but it's the same chance as you'd have one happening at Breck. Not to dissuade you at all. Learning how to read avalanche terrain is an awesome skill to have.
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Old 10-01-2012, 02:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post
To be honest, if you are just riding at the Silverton Ski area, avalanche training is not really needed. I know they "require" you to have avalanche gear and have a working knowledge of it. Have they ever had an avalanche at the ski area that has taken out guests? Nope. That is because it's controlled just like any other ski area. What they planned on doing and what really happened are two different things. Plus if you are not there during the shoulder seasons you're being guided. They are not going to take you to any spot that has any sort of real avalanche threat. Of course a slide could happen, but it's the same chance as you'd have one happening at Breck. Not to dissuade you at all. Learning how to read avalanche terrain is an awesome skill to have.
I was going to go with a guide, so I'm sure that increases safety substantially. My rationale was that if they require avalanche gear, I should be very well versed with it before I decide to do any trips. Maybe I won't go for the certification, but I would definitely like to attend a Friends of Berthoud Pass Class and potentially catch some turns with experienced riders.
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It may serve you better. The FOBP class will certainly get your feet wet and teach you the basics. It may serve you better than dropping the $300 plus for a Level I course at this time. I highly recommend it, but only if bc riding is something you are going to be doing, with just you and your buds. Not guided trips.

Again Silverton is a controlled mountain, just like any resort in Colorado. They like to make their clients feel like it's a backcountry experience, but it just isn't. Still if they can get you to drink the Kool Aid than they can get reliable repeat business. It's not a bad thing. It was their original plan to have it as a lift served backcountry area. Reality set in and it was just something they couldn't do. Regardless, the mountain is steep and bad ass. Backcountry or not, it's pretty rad.

The biggest thing I can say, is when you get your beacon, learn how to use it. Of course you are going to need another one to practice with, but your friends should be rocking beacons too.
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Old 10-01-2012, 11:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by killclimbz View Post
It may serve you better. The FOBP class will certainly get your feet wet and teach you the basics. It may serve you better than dropping the $300 plus for a Level I course at this time. I highly recommend it, but only if bc riding is something you are going to be doing, with just you and your buds. Not guided trips.

Again Silverton is a controlled mountain, just like any resort in Colorado. They like to make their clients feel like it's a backcountry experience, but it just isn't. Still if they can get you to drink the Kool Aid than they can get reliable repeat business. It's not a bad thing. It was their original plan to have it as a lift served backcountry area. Reality set in and it was just something they couldn't do. Regardless, the mountain is steep and bad ass. Backcountry or not, it's pretty rad.

The biggest thing I can say, is when you get your beacon, learn how to use it. Of course you are going to need another one to practice with, but your friends should be rocking beacons too.
The beacon aspect of training is what I am lacking right now, and that's what I wanted to focus on this winter. Thanks for all your help, I really appreciate! If the conditions are ever favorable, I'll see if I can make it up to Berthoud Pass.
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Old 10-02-2012, 10:01 AM   #8 (permalink)
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They will be.

Beacons are pretty easy to use. 10-15 minutes of having someone show you how to use them and then it just boils down to practice. Which you can do around the house, in a park, but it is best once you can do it in the snow. It is something we go over for the on snow day with FOBP. Everyone gets to do a basic beacon search. Usually they are rescuing my pastrami sandwich that is in my pack buried in the snow with a beacon.
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