On March 22nd, WBR member resorts Alta and Snowbird participated in Utah's statewide day of giving- aptly dubbed Love UT, Give UT. WBR teamed up with Wasatch Adaptive Sports and The Cottonwood Canyons Foundation to combine efforts in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
ALTA, UT – Non-profits serving Alta and the greater Little Cottonwood Canyon are combining efforts for Love Give Utah, a statewide day of charitable giving organized by the Community Foundation of Utah (www.loveutgiveut.org). The community is supporting two projects, each with matching grants up to $1,000 for donations made on March 22, 2013 during Love Give Utah.
This past Thursday I had the opportunity to visit Park City Mountain Resort and observe some of their dog teams run through drills in preparation for the teams' upcoming A and B tests. For Bert and his dog Stella, it would be the last chance to practice before their A test the very next morning at Deer Valley, and for Hutch and his Golden Retriever, Calamity, it would be their first ever double blind burial.
On a sunny Friday in mid- February I had the chance to visit Sundance Resort and spend the day with John "Woody" Woodruff and his dog, Angus, who had just returned from the Swiss Dog school in January.
On Tuesday Wasatch Backcountry Rescue hosted Swiss Avalanche Guru, Manuel Genswein at Snowbird Resort. Manuel came to teach a class for professional rescuers from WBR member resorts on how to best train their peers in professional rescue, as well as the general public in partner rescue. I had the opportunity to sit in on his “Train the Trainer” session, and cannot speak highly enough of Genswein. His teaching methods and techniques were both thought provoking and engaging.
Ever wonder what it's like for the WBR teams selected to travel abroad and attend a Dog School? Here's Ski Patroller Lauren Edwards' first hand account of her experience at the 2013 Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association school.
This January, my black lab Tucker and I had the honor of getting to travel to Golden, BC to take part in the CARDA’s annual winter avalanche dog training course. We joined Matt Leri from Alta, and his yellow lab, Primrose, for a week long course held at Kicking Horse Resort in Golden, BC.
On Sunday January 13, 2013, twenty eight dogs and their handlers checked into Alta's Peruvian Lodge. Ski patrollers had travelled from resorts across the continental US and as far away as Alaska. They were full of expectations, and were now buzzing with excitement in Little Cottonwood Canyon, ready and waiting in anticipation for Wasatch Backcountry Rescue's biannual International Dog School.
The 2013 WBR International Dog School is now underway. All the dogs and handlers spent the first day on the snow at Alta and Snowbird despite well below freezing temperatures. Teams searched for articles, trained on obediance, and even found live burials.
WBR responded to a callout for injured avalanche victims in Millcreek Canyon Saturday night 1/12/2013. 2 victims were caught and carried by a large avalanche in the West Porter Fork Drainage of Millcreek Canyon. One victim was fully buried and recovered by her partner via beacon search. She sustained injuries and lost equipment including one ski and boot. -10 degree temps, darkness and loss of equipment left victims in serious need of rescue. Salt lake County SAR team responded on the ground, while WBR rescuers were flown to the scene by a Dept of Public Safety helicopter. Victims were located, assessed, and flown out of the back country to awaiting EMS units. This is a great example of the inter-agency co-operation in play in the Wasatch Mountains. Great job team.
Dog and handler teams begin to arrive tomorrow for Wasatch Backcountry's 2013 International Dog School. The Dog school begins Sunday, January 13, and will host teams from accross the United States including Alaska, with some puppies attending as young as 5 months.
The school will be held over the course of four days, with stations at both Alta and Snowbird, where the dogs and handlers will be put through a wide range of drills and scenarios. These stations are designed specifically by the professionals at WBR to focus and enhance the dogs skills in an emergency rescue scenario.
When we travel into the backcountry we acknowledge that we are taking a risk. Understandably, this is a risk that we must mitigate, or limit, to the best of our abilities. This includes taking measures on the day of our tour, in addition to the seasonal, and ultimately life long acquisition of knowledge with regards to the snow, snowpack, and terrain across which we intend to travel. We must strive to know not only the snow and the mountains, but ourselves.
Over the course of the past weekend I took my Avalanche 1 course through the American Avalanche Institute. My course was held in Alta, Utah, and run by Sarah Carpenter, one of AAI's co-owners, with the help of Pete Earl, a Professional Ski Patroller at Canyons resort in Park City, Utah.
Last Friday I had the opportunity to visit Solitude resort and spend the day with their professional Ski Patrol. The director of Solitude's dog program, Keith Sternfels made me feel right at home, and sent me up to the Powderhorn shack to meet with Jeremy Brodney and Rio. Rio is Solitude's only C-level, or Candidate dog, and in fact belongs to the patrol director, Marvin Sumner. Even though he is technically Rio's B, or secondary handler, the 22 month yellow lab spends a great deal of her on mountain time with Jeremy. It's clear that the two share a close bond.