Backcountry enthusiasts inevitably find themselves on mountainous terrain full of snow.
Protect yourself and companions by learning how to avoid and identify potential avalanches with free courses offered by Friends of the San Juans.
In December, the organization is offering three avalanche awareness classes, and two, five-hour on-snow field courses – all at no cost. In January, there will be a companion rescue clinic and associated five-hour field course, also at no cost.
Pre-registration is required for on-snow field courses and the companion rescue clinic field course. For more information, visit the Friends of the San Juans website at www.thesanjuans.org
The avalanche awareness classes are:
Dec. 9 in Telluride at the Wilkinson Public Library, 6-8 p.m. Dec. 12, in Cortez at Kokopelli Bike and Board from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 13 in Rico at the Enterprise Bar and Grill from 6-8 p.m.On snow field courses are: Dec. 7-8 at Molas Pass, Andrews Lake winter lot from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.Dec. 14-15 at Lizard Head Pass, Cross Mountain Trailhead.Companion Rescue Clinic and Field Course will be Jan. 8 and 12.
On Jan. 8, the Companion Rescue Clinic will be from 6-8 p.m., at Pine Needle Mountaineering in Durango.
On Jan. 12, the Companion Rescue Field Course will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Molas Pass, Andrews Lake winter lot.
Avalanche Professionals from supporting organizations will provide participants with an overview of basic avalanche awareness, avoidance, forecasting, safe travel and self-rescue.
These courses are an introduction for novices and a great early season refresher for more experienced travelers. All classes are open to the public and free of charge.
Last winter, there were eight avalanche deaths in Colorado, including three fatalities in the San Juans, which occurred near Red Mountain Pass, Telluride, and Lizard Head Pass. FOSJ is recognized by the American Avalanche Association as an Avalanche Awareness Course Provider, and consults with highly respected educators in Colorado and elsewhere on our curriculum and course development.
In the Avalanche Awareness Class, participants are presented with an overview of basic avalanche awareness, avoidance, forecasting, safe travel and self-rescue in a casual classroom environment. This course is a perfect introduction for novices and a great early season refresher for more experienced travelers.
The On-Snow Session and other Field Clinics complete FOSJ’s curriculum to take everything we learn in Awareness Classes and Workshops and apply them in a practical and fun outdoor environment. Both novice and experienced backcountry travelers have lauded FOSJ’s Field Clinics as an essential learning tool.
Friends of the San Juans is a grassroots collective of backcountry enthusiasts committed to providing avalanche awareness and education for winter backcountry users in the San Juan Mountains.
The nonprofit was founded in 2014 by a handful of backcountry riders and is managed by both a volunteer executive board and an advisory committee of avalanche professionals. Its funding comes from generous donations from members and local supporting partners.
Volunteer Board Members include Michael Ackerman, Gary Apostolou, Aaron Ball, Kelli Brush, Jeremy Dakan, Forrest Kohere, Rob Lloyd, Daisy Matthews, John Strand and Blayne Woods.
FOSJ has joined Silverton Avalanche School as a Keystone Partner for the 2019-20 Season.
As a result of the partnership, FOSJ members will receive weekly updates on snowpack conditions, observations, and other tips in the San Juans. Members will receive a discounted rate for a custom hut-based avalanche course will be held in February and March.