The Flathead National Forest, in partnership with Glacier Country Avalanche Center, is sponsoring a free avalanche awareness and safety training program especially focused for snowmobilers, beginning today, Monday, Jan. 26. The program will consist of four evening lectures and two Saturday field sessions, and meets the American Avalanche Association “Level 1” guidelines.
Last week, Beacon reporter Dan Testa wrote about how unusual snowfall patterns throughout the Northern Rockies have, until recently, made for highly unpredictable and dangerous snowpack conditions. That, coupled with recent avalanche deaths here and throughout the West, have area backcountry enthusiasts attending these free classes in droves:
One year and one day after two men died from an avalanche while backcountry skiing in the Canyon Creek area of the Flathead National Forest, people began to file into the U.S. Forest Service headquarters in Kalispell for an avalanche awareness class. More than a hundred people eventually crammed into the room, forcing the stragglers to stand in the back after the last chairs were taken. Accustomed to class sizes of between 10 and 20 people, attendance for the lecture series was the largest the instructor Stan Bones has ever seen.
This latest batch of avalanche classes will be Mondays and Wednesdays, Jan. 26 and 28 and Feb. 2 and 4, with field sessions on Saturdays, Jan. 31 and Feb. 7. The evening lectures will be at the Flathead National Forest Office, located at 650 Wolfpack Way in Kalispell near Glacier High School, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Pre-registration is not required.
The program will include information about avalanche terrain, mountain weather and snowpack, stability evaluation and decision making, and avalanche rescue. Participants are encouraged to attend all sessions to gain maximum benefit.
For more information visit www.glacieravalanche.org or contact the Flathead National Forest at 758-5295.
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