CAIC relaunches avy awareness program | AspenTimes.com

CAIC relaunches avy awareness program

John LaConte
jlaconte@vaildaily.com

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is bringing back their successful Know Before You Go program this winter, with free classes available to all who are interested. A film about the new Know Before You Go program will air at the avalanche information center's Benefit Bash in Breckenridge on Nov. 14.

EAGLE COUNTY — Friends of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and the Utah Avalanche Center are relaunching Know Before You Go, an avalanche awareness program across North America.

The Know Before You Go program was developed in 2004 to raise avalanche awareness among inexperienced backcountry users, particularly those in junior high and high school. Since then, nearly 200,000 people have seen the presentation in Utah alone. For many, Know Before You Go is their first exposure to avalanche education.

"Avalanches kill, on average, 39 people in North America each year, but with a little education many of these accidents can be prevented," said Ethan Greene, director of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. "Know Before You Go is an exciting and entertaining education program that will help our kids stay safe while they are living, working or playing in the mountains."

Paul Diegel, executive director of the Utah Avalanche Center, compared Rocky Mountain residents learning about avalanche safety to Hawaiians learning the basics of tide and current safety.

"But this program is not just for kids, either," he said. "Thousands of adult skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, hikers, hunters and others have learned from this exciting program."

FUNDED BY DONATIONS

Recommended Stories For You

The program is free to anyone who requests it. Aaron Carlson, executive director of Friends of CAIC, the fundraising arm of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, said Vail Mountain School, Vail Mountain Ski Patrol and the Buddy Werner Race League in Edwards have reached out to the avalanche information center about the program.

"It's free, but we're paying instructors to teach the program," Carlson said. "That way we have quality instructors, and we're incentivizing them."

Paying those instructors requires some serious fundraising from Friends of CAIC. In October, Eagle County's largest and only fundraiser for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center took place in Edwards, raising $16,000. Coming up on Nov. 14 in Breckenridge, Friends of CAIC will host their largest fundraiser of the year, the Benefit Bash at Breckenridge's Riverwalk Center.

"It sells out every year, so we're encouraging folks to get their tickets early," Carlson said.

Purchase tickets in advance by visiting http://www.breckcreate.org/event/caicbenefitbash/.

NEW AND IMPROVED

Over the past several months, Friends of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and the Utah Avalanche Center have worked diligently to put together an updated version of the Know Before You Go program in partnership with Avalanche Canada, Backcountry Access, The National Avalanche Center, the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education, and the American Avalanche Association to create a North American standard for introducing avalanche awareness. In an hour, participants will see the destructive power of avalanches, understand when and why they happen, and how to have fun in the mountains while avoiding avalanches.

"Working with the Utah Avalanche Center on the revamp of Know Before You Go has been very exciting for us," Carlson said. "The collaboration has allowed us to develop a consistent program across two great avalanche centers' education programs."

For more information or to schedule your free Know Before You Go program, contact Utah@kbyg.org in Utah, KBYG@Friendsofcaic.org in Colorado and info@kbyg.org elsewhere. Check out http://www.kbyg.org for additional details.