2011 Training at Silverton Mountain
Posted on December 1st, 2011
by edge | 0 Comments
Here’s a guest post from Kenny Bloggins, writer and guide at my second-favorite resort in North America (you’ll have to guess the first): Silverton Mountain, Colorado. Kenny’s pseudonym is Alex Hunt, or is it the other way around? Anyway, Silverton is getting pounded today and opens this Saturday. If you’re a skier’s skier and you haven’t been to Silverton, put it on your tick list. The terrain is awesome and the attitude is extremely refreshing. No BS here, just great snow, great terrain, and diehard skiers.
The Cement Creek drainage just North of Silverton has been echoing over the last few days from the avalanche explosive testing at Silverton Mountain Ski Area. We have been working hard to get everything ready for another powder drenched season opener on Dec. 3rd
and couldn’t be happier!
Along with the blasting, we have been digging pits all over the mountain to evaluate how our early season snowpack is shaping up. It’s always great to get your head in the snow and turn the avalanche detecting skills back on. It seems our snowpack is a little deeper than it was this time last year, I sure do hope that trend continues.
Along with snowpack evaluation comes early season training exercises. I always enjoy getting the new guides in on the action to see what they’re thinking. After going through the same regimen for the past 10 years it’s easy to fall into old habits. The young’uns offer a fresh perspective and help me see things from a different point of view. That viewpoint often creates learning opportunities for the entire staff.
My favorite exercise is the avalanche scenario; to think about how and where an avalanche will travel down the mountain can provide amazing insight. When one deconstructs the mountain piece by piece and understands how each bench, bush and convex roll make up an entire avalanche path it becomes easier to put things back together and get an overall idea about how nature works.
Breaking out our Tracker beacons for the first time of the season is a true reminder that we are not just goofing around at the local playground. The first time I turn that sacred little unit on I always pay special attention to the battery level. Then I turn it off and on again to see what it reads a second time. This year I started off the season with a solid 87% battery level.
When my training partners have the avalanche scenario completely setup they let the remainder of our group know it’s time to begin the search. After the requisite radio calls and designation of Incident Commander and Scene Commander I began my search.
One of the new guys told me he likes to hold his beacon to his ear during the primary search so he can focus his eyes on the slope below for any clues. I thought this was an awesome idea so I gave it a whirl. It was much easier to evaluate what was in front of me without my eyes staring at my beacon. As I zigzagged the avalanche path I heard what I was waiting for, the electronic beep from my Tracker. I followed the arrows and glanced down as the beeping intensified. Before I knew it I was performing my pinpoint search. I quickly probed the target and was able to dig out the buried beacon.
These are the type of early season trainings that are easy to do for everyone. It’s a great reason to get out into the snowy mountains in preparation for a fun winter!