On December 4th and 5th, the Summit County Rescue Group will
hold their 35th Annual Avalanche Rescue Seminar. This seminar
is designed specifically for members of Search and Rescue groups,
and includes one day of classroom instruction and one day of field
work. Basic and advanced levels will be offered.
the 2010 brochure for registration information and details.
Members of the Sichuan Mountaineering Association (SMA), who
were visiting Colorado from the Sichuan province of China this
week, pose with members of the Summit County Rescue Group after a
successful joint training exercise on Quandary Peak. Photo by
Colin Dinsmore of the Summit County Rescue Group.
The Sichuan province is in South Central China
A group of eight mountain rescuers from the Sichuan Province in
China will visit Colorado from September 11 - 15, 2010, on a US
State Department-sponsored search and rescue exchange. The
visitors, who are members of the Sichuan Mountaineering Association
(SMA), will visit with Boulder-based Rocky Mountain Rescue Group
(RMRG) and the Summit County Rescue Group (SCRG) for an exchange of
skills and experience in responding to mountain rescue
The Sichuan province contains a vast alpine region with many
peaks rising over 7000 meters. SMA was the initial mountain rescue
team that responded to the 2009 search and rescue attempt for
Boulder climbers Jonny Copp, Micah Dash and Wade Johnson in the Mt
Edgar region of the Sichuan Province.
In addition to mountain rescue response in the popular tourist
region of China, SMA has used their SAR skills to save countless
lives during recent earthquakes in the province.
The current exchange was initiated by the Department of State
consulate in Chengdu, China and is supported by the family of Wade
Johnson, who perished along with Copp and Dash on Mt Edgar. The
Johnson family directed a portion of the left over funds raised
during the rescue effort in 2009 to support the travel of the SMA
rescuers. The Johnson family said, "This rescue and training
program is the perfect way to spend the funds that were raised
through the generosity of many wonderful people and organizations;
those who understand the spirit of the mountains and of those who
seek to climb."
The US Department of State International Visitor Leadership
Program is sponsoring the Chinese team during their visit to both
Colorado and Washington State. State Department representative
Chris Mrozowski said, "We know the SMA mountaineers are already
doing heroic work in mountain and earthquake rescue in western
China. This exchange is all about exposing them to more formal
emergency preparedness, crisis management and initial response
protocols, which are somewhat limited in Sichuan Province. The
response from American rescue teams has been enthusiastic and their
generosity will give the Chinese visitors a rapid immersion into
mountain rescue response as it occurs in the U.S."
While in Colorado the SMA visitors will meet with local climbers
who went to assist in the rescue attempt last year, and with the
families of the deceased. The visitors will also meet with mission
leaders from RMRG and SCRG to discuss and observe initial rescue
response methods, research rescue equipment and techniques and
participate in multiple rescue scenarios. While in Boulder SMA will
participate in a mock high-angle rock climbing rescue in Eldorado
Canyon with RMRG, after which they will travel to Summit County to
participate in a mock alpine mountaineering rescue on Quandary Peak
Dan Lack, secretary/treasurer of the Rocky Mountain Region of
the Mountain Rescue Association, and mission leader with RMRG said,
"We think the Sichuan rescuers will learn a lot from observing our
initial response and technical systems for mountain rescue here in
Colorado. However we are also excited to learn from our Chinese
colleagues. Elegant solutions to big problems always come from
areas with limited resources, so we are excited to learn as much as
we can from their experiences. Most importantly the Colorado SAR
community believes we can form a lasting and beneficial
collaboration with the SMA through an exchange such as this."
Directors of the Colorado Search and Rescue Board, the Rocky
Mountain Region of the Mountain Rescue Association and members of
several other Colorado SAR teams will also participate in this
For Hunter, who works full-time as a ski patroller for
Breckenridge, the decision to attend the class needs no
explanation. "The best part of the course for me," he comments,
"was the sharing of best practices between patrollers and dog
The three full-time instructors for the course were Andy
Gleason, a PhD candidate in snow science and former CAIC
forecaster; Sarah Carpenter, owner of American Avalanche Institute
in Jackson; and Denny Hogan, a retired forecaster/snow ranger.
The course began with a field rescue exercise involving three
buried beacons, two dummies, a live burial, and a Recco tab. Both
Aaron and Hunter agreed that while it was a fairly advanced
scenario for most, it was a review for the two of them, the only
volunteer mountain rescuers in the group. That was the only part of
the course they labeled "basic", however.
It had snowed heavily, so on the second day participants
shadowed Telluride ski patrollers on control routes. The highlight
for Aaron, one of the few in the group who does not routinely do
control work, was observing a Howitzer control mission using a
Forest Service gun.
On the third day of the course, the group skied out a Telluride
backcountry gate and stayed for two nights in the Alta Lakes
Observatory, a backcountry lodge that exceeds the name "hut".
Featuring running water, electricity, a hot tub and a piano, it was
an ideal place for the group to kick back in the evenings with a
beer and talk shop. Hunter comments, "I really think the
instructors plan an overnight trip on purpose, in order to make
sure we spend time truly relaxing and sharing ideas with each
other. I learned a lot from talking to other patrollers." During
the days, the focus was on route finding and snow pits, but the
avalanche danger was rated so high that the group had to stay in
the trees and on very low-angled slopes.
Toward the end of the class there were two more field tours at
Ophir and Red Mountain Pass, where CAIC forecaster Susan Hale
talked about issues in working with government agencies such as
CDOT, and how she makes the tough decisions that lead to road
2017 Avalanche SeminarNov 29, 2016
2016 Avalanche SeminarNov 20, 2015