Avalanche instructor Lori Zacaruk of Black Diamond teaches students valuable skills on how to stay safe in the backcountry. Red Deer residents will have the opportunity to learn this skills at a seminar later this month.

Avalanche skills seminar coming to Red Deer

The first blush of snow and cold air has fired up skiers and snowmobilers who should be prepared for the dangers lurking in the backcountry, an avalanche instructor says.

The first blush of snow and cold air has fired up skiers and snowmobilers who should be prepared for the dangers lurking in the backcountry, an avalanche instructor says.

Tammy Stehr, who works with Lori Zacaruk and Zac Tracs, says an avalanche skills training seminar and rescue class is set for Red Deer in late November.

The Black Diamond-based business is running an avalanche skills training — level 1 course on Nov. 27 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Pioneer Lodge at 45th Street and 47th Avenue.

That will be followed with a rescue course at 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.

The AST Level 1 course is considered the minimum level of training that backcountry riders should have.

Stehr said it’s an excellent introduction to “how not to get caught.”

The course will cover avalanche terrain recognition skills, snowpack theory, rescue skills and overall risk management.

The classroom component includes lecture, powerpoint, videos, displays, demonstrations, and group exercises.

Stehr said the class structure is highly interactive.

She also said the participants gather more value out of the class sessions than online programs and books.

The course stresses that maximum learning results from listening to the experiences of other participants, their interpretations of the material, and group discussions that result from questions posed by your peers.

“We try to raise the bar and instruct snowmobilers and hikers about the dangers out there and what to look for and more importantly how to avoid getting into difficulty,” Stehr said.

She also said people who learn the skills should impart their knowledge to all mountain riders they know.

Stehr said unaware and untrained riders inadvertently put innocent people at risk everyday.

Instructors also welcomed the news late last week that a new standard format for public avalanche bulletins has been introduced by the federal government in conjunction with Parks Canada.

The format takes advantage of new technology, advanced avalanche forecasting and risk communication theory.

“If a person forgets to check their home computer before heading out for a day of sledding they can now check on the application in their mobile and Smartphones,” said Stehr.

The costs for the Red Deer courses are $175 plus GST for the day-long skills training class and $50 plus GST for the avalanche rescue class.

Zac Tracs has performed a Safe Rider program in Sylvan Lake at the end of October.

The program, offered in partnership with the Alberta Snowmobile Association, will be on again Nov. 28 at Rimbey and Bluffton schools Stehr, said.

The interactive seminar is designed to educate Alberta’s youth on safe and sound riding practices, riding and environmental safety and awareness and proper environmental respect.

People wishing to register for the Red Deer courses on Nov. 27 can contact www.zactracs.com/course-details.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate

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