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Wasatch County Search and Rescue to hold avalanche safety clinic

Wasatch County Search & Rescue

With people eager to get back to snow sports, many will venture into the backcountry as winter arrives - or continues to delay. Wasatch County Search and Rescue is holding a free safety workshop to help recreators stay safe from avalanches and other dangers out there.

Wasatch County Search and Rescue Commander Kam Kohler says out of about 100 rescue calls his team gets per year, most come in winter. And all too often when it’s for an avalanche, the caller is already in “serious trouble” by the time help arrives.

That’s what he says this Friday’s course for the public is designed to prevent.

“A lot of people come to Wasatch County to recreate - same with Summit County - and that’s really the reason we wanted to sponsor an avalanche awareness clinic,” Kohler says. “In the past few years, we’ve had a lot of avalanche fatalities. They’ve happened with snowmobilers, with skiers, with snowshoers. So, if you go into the backcountry, it’s essential that you know exactly how to read the avalanche forecast, where to get the avalanche forecast - there’s just a lot of tools that you need to be aware of.”

The clinic will feature Utah Avalanche Center Forecaster Craig Gordon. Kohler says the 20-year veteran is one of the best to learn from.

“The night is really designed to help people raise their awareness - ‘If I go into the backcountry, what do I need? What’s the knowledge that I need, and what are the tools that I need?’ And Craig Gordon is the best in the business,” Kohler says.

Before the informational workshop, the unit’s rescue equipment and gear will be on display in an open house. Along with a “snowbulance” - an “ambulance on snow” - and other equipment, there’ll be hot dogs to eat.

The open house begins at 5 p.m., and the formal clinic an hour later at the Wasatch County Search and Rescue Building in Heber City. It’s at 1359 South Highway 40. The event is free, and anyone can show up without registering in advance.

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