As snow begins to pile up on the mountain slopes across Alaska, so does our excitement to break out the snowmachines, skis, boards and sleds and prepare for the season. To ensure you have fun, safe winter adventures, remember Alaska ranks number one in the nation per capita for avalanche fatalities so it’s important to include avalanche education as part of your preparation plan.
Governor Bill Walker has once again proclaimed November Avalanche Awareness Education Month and encourages all Alaskan’s to take the time to get educated and brush up on your mountain skills for safe travel in avalanche terrain.
Alaska is full of extensive outdoor recreational opportunities and residents and visitors alike are able to enjoy activities in uniquely vast and often extreme terrain. This terrain poses inherent risks that requires avalanche awareness, education, preparation and alertness.
To help residents and visitors stay informed and prepare, the Alaska Avalanche Information Center (AAIC) supports five avalanche information centers in Alaska that provide snow stability information, advisories and educational opportunities. The Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center (CNFAIC,) funded by the US Government, covers the Girdwood, Turnagain and Seward regions with regular forecasting. At www.AlaskaSnow.org you’ll find information and web links to all of these observation and forecasting platforms as well as courses and events that range from basic backcountry awareness to advanced American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education level I and II and Instructor Training courses.
To kick off Avalanche Awareness Education month, AAIC will host a free backcountry safety workshop at REI in Anchorage. This will be followed by the 10th annual Alaska Snow Safety Summit on Thursday, November 8th at the BP Energy Center in Anchorage. This event draws snow safety practitioners, agency representatives, political leaders and media representatives from across the state to discuss ways to collaborate and sustain this important network of snow safety services. This year’s Summit, made possible with support from Conoco Phillips, Alyeska Pipeline Service Company and BP, will focus on communication.
On November 9th, the CNFAIC will host the regional Southcentral Alaska Avalanche Workshop (SAAW) at APU in the Atwood Bldg. This workshop provides continuing education for snow forecasters and educators from around the state. There is also a public component in the afternoon. Learn more or register at https://akavalancheworkshop.org Saturday, November 10th, the public is invited to the Anchorage Loussac Library at 36th and Denali from 11 am to 3 pm for SnowFest, free thanks to the Alaska Department of Public Safety and AARP Alaska. With activities for all ages and skill levels, this is your chance to learn and test your skill with a variety of hands-on workshops.
There are numerous other education opportunities planned around the state. Learn more or register at www.alaskasnow.org/education/course-offerings/