Elk Range Mountain Safety Coalition classes start Friday in Roaring Fork Valley | AspenTimes.com

Elk Range Mountain Safety Coalition classes start Friday in Roaring Fork Valley

Staff report

The Elk Range Mountain Safety Coalition, which was formed after last summer's record number of deaths in the backcountry, will host a free mountain safety training class Friday night in Carbondale.

The safety group held six classes along the Front Range, where many hikers are based, and Friday's event is the first of two in the Roaring Fork Valley. The 90-minute classroom presentation is at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale. It starts at 6 p.m., and there will be another class Sept. 6 at the Mountain Rescue Aspen headquarters.

As part of the program, there are five field planning and skills clinics that are all day and led by expert mountaineering guides. The cost for the field events — which are Aug. 25 and Sept. 2, 8, 16 and 22 — is $50 and the courses are from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those classes are limited to 12 people per session and will be based around the valley.

"For beginning climbers, we want to offer the tools to start safely: what gear to bring, how to map out a route, what are the components of a rescue, etc.," said Aspen Alpine Guides' managing partner Stephen Szoradi, who along with Amos Whiting of Aspen Expeditions Worldwide will host the field events. "And for fellow experts, through the components of the core curriculum, we hope to offer an easy way to broaden the conversation so that they can engage their friends, family and followers to ensure a safer summer."

The alliance of Roaring Fork Valley mountaineering experts includes Mountain Rescue Aspen, the White River National Forest, the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, Aspen Expeditions Worldwide and Aspen Alpine Guides.

For more information and to register for the courses, visit the group's Facebook page @ElkRangeMtnSafety.

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