Article on our AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course by Heather Dappen of Wenatchee Outdoors~ "As much as I resist admitting it to him, these last few years I have been following in my father’s footsteps by learning how to backcountry ski. I have also taken to shadowing his skin track up steep slopes, eager to tear up that alleged “boot-top powder” and shoot effortlessly down the “Far-Too-Gnar-Couloir”.
In the process I’ve come to recognize that along with great powder, comes great responsibility. Both the work of getting uphill and the consequences of what can happen on the way down, is enough to take my breath away. I now realize that the angel choir I hear singing when I see the glistening white snow could easily become a funeral dirge if an avalanche were to occur. What originally looks so soft can quickly become a moving sheet with thousands of tons of cement capable of freezing you into a replica of a Han Solo carbonite statue. My own introduction into the backcountry as well as some highly publicized incidents in this area have exposed me to both the danger of skiing out of bounds and to my ignorance about the where, how, and why of avalanches.
Realizing that my cluelessness could have major corollaries, I enlisted in an AIARE Level 1 course recently with the Northwest Mountain School in Leavenworth to get better educated about backcountry snows. This AIARE (The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) course is directed at the average backcountry skier and provides basic avalanche education and awareness. Its main goals are to help its learners make knowledgeable decisions in avalanche terrain and to help prevent avalanche accidents."