Silverton Avalanche School Level 2 – Part 1

This past weekend, I joined Friends of Berthoud Pass on a trip to Silverton for SAS‘ Level 2 avalanche course. I wasn’t planning on joining them for this trip, but someone else had to drop out and I filled their spot on short-ish notice. Chris, Gary, and I left Denver late morning on Wednesday, planning to get over Red Mountain Pass with a little daylight left, and get settled in Silverton in time to get a decent night’s sleep. We made it, and beat all but one of the eight others joining us.

After a few hours in the classroom, we headed out and dug our first of many snowpits, to get a handle on what the snow was like in the region (since all six of us in the group are from the Front Range).

We crossed back over to run through an excellently put together practice scenario. This photo was taken after we ran through it, crossed back over the road, and got ready to dig a pit on a different aspect.

We were quick and had time to make a few turns, all three of which were enjoyable.

Dobish even hit a lip so big that he almost got completely off the snow.

Ben seemed to enjoy himself as well.

Everyone seemed pleased with the first day out on snow.

After getting down, we de-booted and watched another group run through the scenario. Bobski volunteered to help by playing a slide victim, sitting in the snow all day long. Fortunately it was sunny and warm. His jacket came closer to being a Hawaiian shirt than any others I’ve ever seen.

We wrapped up the day with a snow crystal lab, which was cold but very interesting. I highly recommend looking at snow crystals through a microscope if you get a chance.

I woke up early on Friday to make pancakes; a semi-decent, warm breakfast was good to have before things really began. Day two started with another few hours in the classroom before heading out to dig a full data pit on Molas Pass. It was interesting (and a valuable skill to learn), but didn’t make for great photos.

During the day a camera crew from Matchstick Productions was skiing around town, jibbing off of buildings (notably, a 180 on to a roof, followed by a back(front?)flip off it). Carl was talked in to attempting a jib over a couple hour period, so the crew rallied out to watch some urban skiing.

Carl took a few laps around the block to judge speed, and reported good snow conditions.

Though he determined that he’d have to be going stupid-fast to even have a chance of making the roof. Look for this building in MSP’s movie this fall. The tongue on Carl’s boot broke after this, officially ending the attempt.

Gary V decided to hop on for some bindingless tandem skiing, which lasted all of 20 feet.

It was getting colder and windier, so we headed back inside to laugh about the skiing. Marc and Dobish got started preparing the next night’s dinner, and we all turned in to rest up for the next day’s tour.

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