A new avalanche beacon search practice park has just opened to the public in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The park is located within the Rendevous Park, which spans 40 acres of breathtaking mountain views. With such an impressive backdrop, it’s safe to say that this training facility is the most beautiful classroom you will ever see. Equipped with BCA’s “Wireless Beacon Training Park System,” visitors to the park can practice both single and multiple burial scenarios. The system features eight wirelessly controlled transmit boxes, each paired with a 2’X2’ target that beeps upon a positive strike.
When it comes to avalanche safety, the first thing you should do is take an AIRE avalanche course. These courses educate those eager to enter potential avalanche zones about the risks of avalanches, how to avoid avalanches, and what to do if you are caught in an avalanche. However, even after taking one of these courses, this education is useless without regularly practicing and applying the course material.
With the knowledge gained from these courses, students are equipped with strategies on how to avoid avalanches. These techniques involve keeping track of the snowpack throughout the season, checking online resources about local avalanche danger, digging snow pits and conducting tests to measure snow stability, measuring slope angle, and carefully planning routes ahead of time to avoid areas of heightened avalanche danger.
While these are a few highly effective preventative measures, accidents still happen. When they do, people’s lives could depend on your ability to use your avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe effectively. Because of this, the best way for you to successfully respond in the case of an emergency is to practice using your equipment as much as possible.
If you do not have access to a beacon park, practice with a friend instead! While practices should be taken seriously, that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun, and there is plenty of room for creativity! For example, have your friend bury a cooler with some refreshments inside. You can’t partake in your post-work 5:00 PM après without some digging first!
This year, having your avalanche preparation dialed will be more important than ever before. With thousands of new adventure seekers entering the backcountry due to limited resort capacity, avalanche frequency will likely rise as well. By keeping your knowledge sharp and practice up to date, you can help protect yourself, as well as those around you. First responders and ICU employees will thank you for playing it safe during this time of unprecedented strain on our healthcare system.