Wilderness-safety classes to be held

The Silverton Avalanche School is offering wilderness-safety classes for those who play or work in the snow or have to rescue people who do.

All instruction will be at the Kendall Mountain Recreation Center, 1 Kendall Place, in Silverton. Information is available at www.avyschool.org.

First off, there’s a 16-hour class Saturday and Sunday on wilderness first aid.

“The class is designed to teach people who recreate in the backcountry how to handle minor emergencies,” Jim Donovan, director of the avalanche school, said.

On Nov. 2-4, mountain weather, with emphasis on advanced meteorology, will be the topic of a 24-hour class.

Ethan Greene and John Snook, director and head meteorologist, respectively, of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, will be the instructors.

“A guy from France has enrolled.” Donovan said. “He’s in a university Ph.D program in avalanche studies, but he hasn’t had any weather training.”

The class has been given for more than five years in Leadville, but it’s the first time for Silverton, Donovan said.

An 80-hour class designed for backcountry guides or trip leaders is scheduled Nov. 9-18. Instruction prepares them to handle any emergency in the wilderness, Donovan said.

The avalanche school since 1962 routinely has given Level 1 and Level 2 avalanche-education classes through the winter, Donovan said. The school currently offers the only Level 1 avalanche instruction for snowmobilers in the state, he said.

Snowmobilers could benefit from instruction because the number of snowmobilers killed in the backcountry is approaching the number of skier fatalities, Donovan said.

Avalanche school instruction is sponsored by San Juan County Search and Rescue, Donovan said. Any profit from enrollment fees supports search-and-rescue efforts.

daler@durangoherald.com

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