A big thank you to Avalanche Canada and Melissa Saarinen of Vitamin Ski Guiding Services. Avalanche Canada sponsored an Avalanche Skills Level 1 (AST 1) course for students in the Elk Valley and local Fernie Secondary School graduate Melissa Saarinene of Vitamin Ski Guiding Services shared her knowledge of avalanches through the AST 1 certification. Seven, local students completed this course from February 6th to 7th. This course included a full day of classroom theory as well as hands on application with a backcountry ski adventure.
Students learned about the dangers of avalanches, precautions to take as well as what to do in case of an emergency. Students dug snow pits, identified weak layers, and recognized the dangers in their local backcountry, as well as practiced beacon searches and rescues. This hands on adventure was during a cold snap in Fernie (-20), yet these teens persevered, trekked through the mountains and practiced their new skills. For many this was their first backcountry skiing experience. In harsh cold conditions, teens navigate through Lost Boys Pass using skins, touring skis and avalanche gear (beacon, probe, and shovel). This was a learning adventure where students earned their certificate through books and action.
This is a vital course for many teens in Fernie who snowmobile with family and have easy access to backcountry locations, as well as slackcountry areas: such as, Upper Mongolia and Fish Bowl. For these local teens, there is a new-found understanding of the dangers that are close to home and a deeper respect of their local backcountry.
Dr. Albert de Villiers, Chief Medical Officer for Interior Health and Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer recognized that Avalanche Canada provides an essential service. With a comprehensive COVID plan in place, this education and service has been able to continue.