“Do you remember your first day riding in the backcountry...how did that turn out?”
It’s a question I’ve asked our instructors to consider as we all prepare for what promises to be an exceptionally different season than anything we’ve experienced prior. FOBP’s field team possesses decades of accumulated knowledge and experience, but we all started somewhere. This year we’re hoping to share anecdotes from our instructors that highlight their first backcountry memories, mistakes, and the paths they’ve taken to get to where they are now. Owing to the fact that regardless of experience, nobody is an expert in the backcountry, and with a nod towards surfing lingo for novices, we’re calling this series Kook 2 Kook Deluxe. Hopefully you find these stories entertaining, insightful, or all of the above..
We started planning our trips and routes ahead of time. We gained a deeper understanding of how snow, terrain, and weather affect avalanche (and skiing!) conditions. We used....maps! And we ALL got formal avalanche training.
Each year that has passed since that first day on snowshoes has brought a new range of experiences both euphoric and “educational”. I progressed slowly and backcountry skied intermittently for 6 years until I was confident enough in my skillset to commit precious vacation days to a major “backcountry only” trip outside of Colorado.
Alaska 2012: Lessons in scale Photos: Ryan Dawson
If you’re an experienced user, remember where you started, and how far we all have to go before becoming practiced, informed decision makers. You will likely encounter a higher number of new users in your favorite zones this season. Do yourself and the backcountry community a favor and be an asset to the newbies. If given an opportunity to steer somebody in the right direction, up their margin of safety, etc. take it. Be patient.
Author - Sam Strait
Sam has been a field instructor with FOBP since 2012, and is currently serving on FOBPs board of advisors and helping manage outreach efforts
Good news, it’s going to snow this winter and after enough snow, there will be backcountry skiing. I am sure the majority of my snow sliding brethren feel like I feel.....we want a refund from the end of the 2019-2020 season. FOBP’s on-snow events had barely finished when our team was put into lockdown, ski resorts abruptly shut down and we were strongly discouraged from venturing out into neighboring mountain communities to reduce their exposure.
Now we are embarking into the great unknown together with pandemic recreation education!The potential influx of new BC travelers was the primary topic of conversation on our weekly FOBP Zoom calls during the lockdown. We had a period of great concern regarding how we will get our message out when we can't perform our education in person. For the last 16 seasons, all we did was in-person education. We want you to hear our voice of concern, warning, and excitement that we put into each presentation. Hearing your questions, concerns, and doubts keep us on our toes engaged in this venture. We love what we do. Most of all, we want you to make smart, educated decisions every time you go into the backcountry.Our Education team has a new director and seasoned FOBP educator, Jeff Welch, who has been diligently learning about broadcasting, microphones, lighting, editing, and importantly, ZOOM. Then he pivots and is teaching the rest of the education members, who are going to in-turn teach the team members, who are then going to bring all of this hard work to you in the form of online Avalanche Education.
Friends of Berthoud Pass is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization based in Colorado.
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Preserving the Legacy of Public Recreation at Berthoud Pass