BRASS to Offer Free Mid-Season Avalanche Refresher Course
The Bryce and Ronnie Athlete Snow Safety Foundation is putting on a pair of free virtual mid-season avalanche clinics later this month.
The foundation, also known as BRASS for short, will be hosting two free virtual avalanche courses from 5:00-6:30pm on March 16th and 24th.
The courses will be led by American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education instructor Lindsay Mann and are open to anyone interested in avalanche education, although much of the course will be focused on sharpening skills already learned through previous avalanche education courses.
Mann says the course is especially useful for people who may have avoided the backcountry earlier in the winter, but are looking to venture out now that springtime conditions are in the forecast.
“It’s just about refreshing some of the points, giving a little bit of a recap of some of the avalanche accidents this year having it been such a tragic winter so far and then just reminding them of, oh, you know, maybe you haven’t practiced with your beacon in a while, but now you’re actually starting to use it so now would be a good time to, again, just get out with your partners and refresh those skills,” Mann says.
With recent spring-like conditions helping to stabilize Utah’s snowpack, which claimed the lives of six people in avalanches earlier this year, avalanche danger is relatively low, but far from gone, says Utah Avalanche Center forecaster Trent Meisenheimer.
“You know, just three, four inches of snow falls and it’s steep and somewhat icy slick, that snow can start, you know, even with a slope cut or a ski turn, it can start to pick up speed and carry down those slick surfaces,” he says.
In addition to avalanches, Meisenheimer says spring backcountry skiers and riders also need to be mindful of what are called ‘slide for life’ conditions -- which is when the snow is frozen enough where a person who falls can’t slow themselves down, potentially sliding into rocks and trees, or off of cliffs.
Mann says when it comes to spring skiing, it’s still all about reading the daily avalanche forecast and planning your day around it, no matter how tempting each peak might look.
“You know, and I think for everyone, just a reminder that it’s easy in the spring to be like, ‘oh, green light! I really want to ski this objective and I’ve been wanting to ski this objective,’ but making sure that whatever objective it is matches with what the avalanche forecast is saying for that day,” says Mann.
More information about the BRASS foundation can be found here.
To register for the March 16th refresher course, click here.
For March 24th, click here.