Letter to the Editor for Jan. 24, 2014

By Baker City Herald readers January 24, 2014 08:30 am

Backcountry travelers need to know about avalanches

In response to the article about “Locals escape avalanche scare” that appeared in The Observer and Baker City Herald on Friday, Jan. 17:

Yes, they are lucky to be alive. I wasn’t there, but in reading the article the only training it suggested that the group had was many years of snowmobiling riding and that all were backcountry winter users.  

All backcountry users need to attend avalanche awareness presentations, or Avalanche training Level I, II, or III courses which are given by many organizations. 

These presentations and training provides the following information:

• Safe travel routes

• Snowpack evaluations

• Social habits and make up of groups

• Avalanche beacons and use

• Avalanche shovels and use

• Avalanche probe poles and use

• Shovel technique for rescue

• Self rescue in an avalanche

Each individual backcountry traveler, whether it is by snowmobile, backcountry skis or snowshoes, should carry beacons, shovels, and probe poles and have the training to know how to use them. 

A backcountry traveler should be trained to identify the dangers of avalanche and how to self rescue and be safe. No matter how you travel in the backcountry in the winter you need the right equipment to take care of you and your partners. 

There are many organizations that can provide avalanche training and awareness. A few of those organizations are American Avalanche Association, National Ski Patrol, and Wallowa Mountains Avalanche Center.

Please be safe when traveling in the backcountry. Remember, each individual in a backcountry party must have the training and proper equipment to rescue each other when an avalanche occurs. 

Mike Gooderham

La Grande

Anthony Lakes Ski Patrol member, and Level II avalanche instructor