Learn the ‘Backcountry Basics’ in Truckee Saturday | SierraSun.com

Learn the ‘Backcountry Basics’ in Truckee Saturday

Adam Jensen
A Sierra Avalanche Center forecaster assesses snowpack conditions near Lake Tahoe.
Courtesy Sierra Avalanche Center | Provided

If you go

What: Backcountry Basics

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16

Where: Lake Tahoe Community College Student Center, South Lake Tahoe

Tickets: $10 suggested donation

Info: http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org

The popularity of backcountry skiing and riding has exploded in recent years. The allure of untracked snow, beautiful scenery and adventures with friends has brought out new enthusiasts in droves.

While the benefits of backcountry skiing are undeniable, the burgeoning sport also presents additional dangers compared to downhill sliding at a resort.

Education on how to evaluate avalanche danger hasn’t kept pace with the popularity of backcountry snowsports.

It’s for this reason the Sierra Avalanche Center is hosting a series of sessions to help people better evaluate the risks of traveling in avalanche terrain and help people make smarter decisions when backcountry skiing and riding, said Holly Yocum, the board president of the Sierra Avalanche Center, which produces daily avalanche advisories for the region throughout the winter.

The first of the Backcountry Basics sessions was held earlier this month in South Lake Tahoe, with similar presentations planned soon in Truckee, Reno and Tahoe City.

The evenings are not intended to replace formal avalanche training through the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, they are intended to get better avalanche information into more peoples’ hands, Yocum said.

“What we’re trying to do is just have a broader reach to a community of skiers who may not be ready for an AIARE Level 1 course,” Yocum said.

The evenings will include a PowerPoint presentation, a slideshow and videos covering how to use terrain to avoid the areas of most danger, as well as the process of group decision-making, something that can put even experienced backcountry groups in danger if not handled properly.

The sessions last 1.5 to 2 hours, are designed to be fun and can help everyone from the novice to the experienced user develop skills needed to travel safely in avalanche terrain, Yocum said.

Backcountry Basics sessions will likely end up being gatherings of friends with a common interest in getting outside in the winter.

“We are very lucky that we have a very active backcountry community in our area,” Yocum said.

The Sierra Avalanche Center will hold Backcountry Basics sessions at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Community Arts Center in Truckee; 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, at the Patagonia Outlet Store in Reno and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25, at Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema in Tahoe City.

The suggested donation for entry to each event is $10, which will get an attendee one raffle ticket. All proceeds benefit the nonprofit Sierra Avalanche Center.

Yocum encouraged backcountry users to get formal training through AIARE. More information on local courses is available at http://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org.

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