More than 30 avalanche dogs and their handlers from ski areas across the west congregated in Summit County, CO this week to train as part of the Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment program, known as C-RAD.
The teams will spend four days learning how to warm up before a mission. They’ll learn how to balance on rubber balls for agility and how to avoid distractions by running course drills through and around other dogs, according to C-RAD coordinator Hunter Mortensen.
“We have over 30 dogs from all over the west here we’re putting them through the paces,” said Mortensen. “We’re getting them back on track and back in focus and conditioned as the athletes.”
The program started out 6-years ago as an opportunity to brush-up on rescue procedures before the ski season but has grown into much, much more. Teams will also practice getting into helicopters and do drills running in between other dogs to work on focus and distractions.
The nonprofit program began in Summit County in the early 1990s and trains dogs and their handlers on how to conduct avalanche search and rescue missions in the mountains. What started with humble exercises between local teams in Summit and Eagle counties has quickly expanded to include teams from across the country, reports Summit Daily.
This year, 30 dog teams representing 15 ski areas, and seven search and rescue teams from across six states participated. The course provides some of the world’s best instructors from across North America.