March 26th, 2010
We had a great Denali Prep. Course last week with two really fun participants, Sergey and Edie. The course took place at the foot of Snowdon which is just off of Molas Pass.
Day 1: Everyone met at the office and did a gear check then headed up to the mountains. We packed the sled and took turns pulling it up to our camp. It’s hard work but Sergey and Edie both did great. We dug out a bomb proof but comfortable camp, and called it a day. It’s amazing how good burritos with fresh red peppers and avocados can taste in the mountains!
Day 2: We learned about crevasse rescue techniques, climbing knots, Avalanche Awareness including (beacon use, search techniques, digging pits and travel techniques in avalanche terrain.) Its a lot of information to absorb but all important.
Day 3: We attempted to climb Snowdon but decided to turn around on the ridge and on the way back down we went over snow anchors. Later in the day we put a rope in a tree to practice jugging a line to get out of a crevasse.
Day 4: Started out the day with some glacier rope travel and team arresting. Then we found a small cliff jugged some more fixed lines. Back to camp for lunch and to pack up.
We had great weather for the trip which meant some cold nights and mornings. Despite the cold we had a great time and learned a lot.
March 14th, 2010
It’s the last day of our final AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course here in Durango and the San Juan Mountains. It’s been a great course so far, with a very strong group of participants including many guides and pro patrolers. And it’s dumping snow again, with another 4 – 8 inches predicted in the high country. A full trip report by the instructors about will follow soon!
Morning guide's meeting.
Snowing hard on Day 4 at the office. Good indication of what it's doing up high.
March 12th, 2010
Join Colorado Wild, Pine Needle Mountaineering and Southwest Adventure Guides for the 2nd Annual Banff Mountain Film Festival In Durango, Colorado.
When: Sunday, March 21 – 7:00 pm
Where: Smiley Theater – 1309 E. Third Ave, Durango, CO
How: Advance Tickets At Pine Needle Mountaineering: $10 Adults, $8 Students, or at the Door: $15 Adults, $12 Students (Kids 5 and under FREE)
March 10th, 2010
One of our last AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Courses of the season had 8 motivated students from as close as Durango and as far away as Los Alamos, NM. As is typical of our Level 1 Avalanche Course, we began with a full day of classroom activities and presentations, during which participants had the opportunity to become familiar with terminology and ask a lot of questions. Sitting in the classroom all day is a lot to ask, but it frees us up for 2 full days in the field on days 2 and 3 of the course.
View from Molas Pass
Day 2 was spent near Molas Pass, where participants became familiar with topics including companion rescue and test pit construction, in addition to exercises related to the AIARE Observation Checklist, which allows participants the chance to start to put things together from the broader perspective of the decision making framework that was introduced on Day 1.
Constructing test pits on representative slopes.
The final day of the course was spent touring up a sub-peak just north of Snowdon Peak. The forecast was calling for snow and it certainly delivered, snowing an inch an hour at times. Participants took turns leading the group up to about 11,700 feet, practicing and learning different types of travel techniques and terrain recognition/management, as well as route finding along the way. The third day of the course offers everyone the chance to apply the knowledge and techniques they have learned during the previous days, with many new learning opportunities and teachable moments to help things sink in.
Descending on perfect snow conditions.
After assessing snow and weather conditions, the group decided upon a safe descent on a NW facing aspect. Perfect snow conditions typified the descent and everyone had the opportunity to ski some fresh powder on the way down, a huge bonus after 3 days of coursework!