Each year we offer 20 or more two-hour classroom avalanche awareness presentations followed in mid-winter by a full day on snow.
In 2004 we introduced our grassroots avalanche education program.We offer a series of 2 hour free, introductory avalanche awareness classes across the Colorado Front Range, with over a thousand attendees each year. Our education program follows American Avalanche Association (AAA) and American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) guidelines, but is completely homegrown, developed and honed over the years by professional avalanche educators and dedicated backcountry enthusiasts to provide a solid foundation for beginning backcountry users in avalanche education. Our program is designed to encourage individuals to further their education by taking a Level 1 avalanche course, but many experienced individuals use our classes as annual refreshers as well.
In addition to our classroom presentations, we host a unique one day On-Snow Avalanche Awareness class on Berthoud Pass. This class allows new backcountry users to experience Awareness level topics in a real life, hands on setting, preparing them for their Level 1 courses. Our classroom sessions days are also completely free for participants. Currently, we host two on-snow days per season with a limit of 75 students each day per US Forest Service regulations.
In our short history we have fashioned a new paradigm in winter recreation on public land. We successfully mobilized public involvement in lobbying the US Forest Service to incorporate the needs and wishes of winter backcountry users in their redevelopment plans and positioned ourselves as a key stakeholder in the policy process. The modern, yet rustic warming hut at the Berthoud Pass summit is just one example of FOBP collaboration. We are the Colorado Department of Transportation ‘Adopt-a-Highway’ sponsor for the Berthoud Pass summit, organize a National Public Lands Day service project, and collaborate with other land-preservation groups.
Friends of Berthoud Pass’ Grassroots Avalanche Education model puts teaching in everyone’s hands. Experienced volunteers show newcomers the basics of safe travel in the backcountry. In turn those volunteers acquire advanced training under the guidance of top educators in the field, on the understanding that they will come back to groom new instructors and so on. In this way, our peer-based educational model loops back around and each new generation learns by teaching. All of our volunteers must complete Avalanche Level 1, CPR and in-house training. In 2010 we launched a Scholarship Fund to enable our volunteer instructors to pursue advanced studies in avalanche science, safety and education.
In all of our efforts we encourage participants to be good stewardship of the pass and to help protect the natural environment, along side the access, of this area that we love to recreate in. In particular, we organizing an annual clean-up day for Berthoud Pass every fall that brings people together to remove trash from along the road, parking lot, and in other high-use areas. Our team of instructors and participants remove over a truck load of trash from the pass each year! Beyond this, we incorporate principles of Leave No Trace into our education and help teach people to be respectful of nature when recreating in the backcountry.
Our members and executive board continually attend conferences to learn, and to share our experience with other professionals around the country. We regularly attend the Colorado Snow and Avalanche Workshop and Colorado Mountain Weather Workshop, the Ski Industry Association trade show and the Winter Wildlands Alliance grassroots advocacy conference. More than 90% of our volunteer instructors are members of the American Avalanche Association (AAA) and have completed Avalanche Level 2 and Wilderness First Aid courses. Several hold, or are pursuing, professional certifications and all are required to undergo in-house training. We are members of the Colorado Association of Non-Profits, the Winter Wildlands Alliance, Backcountry Snowsports Initiative, Snowsports Industries of America and other professional organizations.
Friends of Berthoud Pass is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization based in Colorado.
© Friends of Berthoud Pass 2022
Preserving the Legacy of Public Recreation at Berthoud Pass