Youths learn to use avalanche beacons |

Youths learn to use avalanche beacons

Tim Mutrie

The Aspen Youth Center’s Alpine Club is hosting its first event of the winter season tonight – an avalanche transceiver training class.

Youths, ages 10 to 18, are invited to attend the free class, which begins at 5 p.m. at the Mountain Rescue Aspen cabin on Main Street in Aspen. Youths who own an avalanche beacon should bring it along, but for those who don’t own one, several extras will be available.

According to the Alpine Club’s longtime director, Eric Brendlinger, Mountain Rescue members will teach in the classroom before putting the youngsters’ skills to the test out in the field.

“We’ll go out and bury them [beacons] in multiple locations in Rio Grande Park, and we also do multiple buryings, and that can be really confusing,” Brendlinger said. “Mountain Rescue has been great in allowing us to bring in the kids, because for those who really want to do some backcountry travel, it’s a really good educational experience.

“We’ve got a lot of local kids who love to ski and now are beginning to spread their wings into the backcountry, and we want to make sure they’re equipped for the task,” he said. “We want to get these kids thinking about what they need to take into the backcountry to be safe.”

While most of the Youth Center’s Alpine Club adventures take place during the summer months – such as kayaking, rafting, backpacking, climbing, mountain biking and spelunking – several winter adventures are scheduled for later this year.

Another avalanche transceiver class is scheduled Feb. 17. A beginning ice-climbing clinic is scheduled Jan. 22, and an intermediate/advanced ice-climbing clinic is slated for Feb. 18. A full-moon cross-country ski adventure from Snowmass to Aspen is planned March 17, and a survival snow cave construction course is set for April 8 and 9.

Most courses aren’t free, though through a partnership with local outdoor adventure companies, like Blazing Paddles and Aspen Paragliding and Expeditions, all the clinics are reasonably priced, according to Brendlinger.

“We’re lucky to have business owners willing to cooperate,” said Brendlinger, who has been involved with the Alpine Club for six of its seven years of existence. “They’re subsidized adventures too; the Fred and Elli Iselin Foundation has been real supportive.

“Our goal is to get kids out there – doing things we think they should be doing – and right outside their back door,” he said.

For additional information, call the Aspen Youth Center at 925-7091.

“We’ve got a lot of local kids who love to ski and now are beginning to spread their wings into the backcountry.”

– Eric Brendlinger, Alpine Club director

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