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Students Learn Potentially Life-saving Skills on Avalanche Course


Prior to our trip to Mount Washington, we spent our Saturday at the beautiful Glenlyon Junior School, where we were taught by GNS parent and TOC, Colin Adamson, who has had 20 years of experience working with avalanches. He taught us a lot. Such as identifying the differences between a safe slope and a dangerous slope, as well as understanding how different textures of snow can form different types of avalanches. For example, Colin taught us that when some of the snow has not had the time to settle down, loose snow is created meaning loose snow avalanches are created. Additionally, Colin gave us a guide on how to use certain equipment when saving someone after an avalanche.

Colin also challenged us; one activity consisted of us in a scenario where we were going to ski in the mountains. We had to pose questions to Colin about the conditions of the mountains, such as the temperature, the steepness of the terrain, previous facilities, etc. For me, I learnt a lot from that as it gave me insight into how you should plan a safe ski trip by understanding the potential dangers that could happen.

We started our next day at 5:30 a.m. at the Pemberton Woods campus and went on a three-and-a-half-hour journey to Mount Washington. There, we went on a long and exhausting hike and found ourselves near an avalanche terrain, where we began applying our skills.

In the second photo, you can see a transceiver being used. This sends a radio signal to the transceiver of the trapped person. It measures the distance between the two transceivers. In the third photo, we have a probe, which we can use to locate the person more accurately. It may look like a thin stick, but a lot of skills are needed to properly use this equipment.

The skills obtained from this course can help you save lives and allow you to be aware of any danger signs whenever you are on a ski trip in the backcountry. It goes without saying that the experiences were invaluable and it is an incredible opportunity for anyone to try.

All the students who participated in this course received their Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 certification from Avalanche Canada.