12th Annual Avalanche School is Jan. 3-5

TELLURIDE, Colo. (Dec. 27, 2002)- The Telluride Avalanche School (TAS) conducts its 12th annual Level I Avalanche Course from Jan. 3-5, 2003, for backcountry enthusiasts. The primary goal of TAS is to teach the basic skills necessary for sound decision-making and safe winter travel through avalanche terrain.

Directed by the Telluride Ski Patrol and the San Juan Field School, this three-day avalanche school offers students the unique opportunity for field sessions in avalanche terrain within a controlled ski area environment. Students learn to identify avalanche terrain, recognize instabilities in the snowpack, evaluate the effects of weather, develop safe travel protocol and practice rescue techniques. At the end of the course, all participants receive an American Avalanche Association Level 1 Certification.

“Skiing untracked powder is the ultimate backcountry skiing experience but unless you have the necessary skills, you risk your life every time you venture beyond ski area boundary lines,” said Nicole Greene, executive director for the San Juan Field School. “Many experts consider the snow pack in the San Juans to be the most dangerous in the country. Our goal is to teach people how to make good decisions and avoid potentially hazardous situations in the backcountry.”

TAS was founded in 1990 by the Telluride Ski Patrol and the International Alpine School in response to several fatal avalanche accidents between 1986-1989.

Certified by the American Avalanche Association, TAS is taught by some of the country1s finest avalanche forecasters, pro-patrollers, and snow science experts including; Craig Sterbenz, the Snow Safety Director for the Telluride Ski Area and Scott Toepher of Breckenridge who works as a forecaster for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

The Telluride Avalanche School places significant emphasis on field study. Students will travel into Prospect Bowl and Gold Hill to dig snow-pits, evaluate avalanche terrain and safe route-finding, learn how to use avalanche beacons and practice rescue techniques.

The course costs $175 for three full days of field sessions, lectures, hands-on instruction, instruction materials and access to the Telluride Ski Area. Recommended equipment for the course includes warm, waterproof clothing, adequate headgear, a day pack, snow shovel, 457 compatible transceiver (rentals available), a water bottle or thermos and a sack lunch.

Registration forms are available and can be dropped off at Main Street Telluride Sports, Telluride Mountaineer, and Paragon Ski and Sport. The program is designed for 50 students and space is limited. For more information call the San Juan Field School at 970-728-6250.