As the snow continues to fall in the mountains the chance for an avalanche increases in the backcountry, that’s why the Utah Avalanche Center is training outdoor enthusiasts on how to stay safe.
“I’m just super excited to be up in the mountains,” said Austin Gust, snowboarder.
Backcountry skiing and snowboarding is a popular sport in Utah, but for some, like Gust, this is his first go at it.
“I felt like I just haven’t lived until I’ve tried it,” said Gust.
Gust isn’t the only one trying his hand at something new, the Utah Avalanche Center has seen a dramatic increase of people wanting to get into the backcountry over the past year.
“The explosion of the recreationalists in the backcountry, it’s been great to see that level of education bump up as well,” said Andrew Nassetta, program director for Utah Avalanche Center.
With that comes the need for education, the Utah Avalanche Center offers a number of courses to educate people, like the intro to avalanche rescue course.
“It’s not just about having the gear it’s about knowing how to use it,” said Nassetta.
“I definitely don’t want to be the person that’s not experienced when your partner gets buried because the time is counting down and their life’s on the line,” said Gust.
While the goal is to avoid an avalanche at all costs, having the skills to save someone is necessary.
“We have 15 minutes to get him out, and it’s crucial to be able to perform these skills efficiently,” said Nassetta.
The beacon, probe and shovel being the main tools to rescue someone who’s trapped.
“It’s not just about being out in the backcountry, the best feeling is being out there, and being safe, and being able to come home to those who are waiting for us,” said Nassetta.
And for Gust, it’s about spending time doing what he loves and knowing he can save those he cares about most, in the event of an avalanche.
“Touring you’re like hiking up ridges on the top of the mountains, and you’re with your best friends usually, so it’s just making memories,” said Gust.
The Utah Avalanche Center is always offering courses to teach people about safety in the mountains.
To sign up for a class or to check the daily avalanche conditions, visit utahavalanchecenter.org.