SARDay 104-106: Organized Avalanche Response

What a week of weather events; huge amounts of snow, wind and a buried icy crust layer. Several natural avalanche observed on Mount Seymour, and skier triggered and natural avalanches all over the place.

What better time for an avalanche course?

Several members of the SAR team took the Organized Avalanche Response Team Member this weekend. You can read the course description for yourselves, but it’s basically an Avalanche Skills Training course specialised for Search and Rescue (AST1 is a recommended prerequisite). The course was held in the Whistler Backcountry.

Having taken and assisted in the instruction of this course many times, I can say it’s one of the best courses that SAR has to offer. Two nights of classroom work, and two very full days of field work, followed by a practical and written exam. The course teaches safe travel skills, terrain evaluation, snowpack science, record keeping, and rescue techniques. The practical, which includes finding multiple buried beacons in a certain area, is almost identical to the Avalanche Operations Level 1.

The members who took the course this year report that it was, as usual, very rewarding although because of the high avalanche hazard they spent more time below treeline and in very simple terrain than they otherwise would have done.

Next month several more members are attending the OAR –Team Leader course which is four days of classroom and field work.

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