Brittney Dickson teaches a backcountry skills class in the backcountry. Photo submitted.

Backcountry skills course offered in Golden

From December 7 to 8, Stay Wild Backcountry Skills will be hosting their first of many Avalanche Skills training courses.

This weekend in particular, the course being offered is Level 1, for sledders, skiers and snowboarders, and will educate on the basics of going into the backcountry.

“We cover all the basic facts before you start heading back there,” said company owner Brittney Dickson. “You get to learn from people who have been back there for a while and you get to start your training from there.”

The course covers the most vital basics, such as how to rescue someone if they get caught in an avalanche, and how to reach terrain and what to watch out for when you’re in the backcountry. Risk management is also an important part of the course.

Moving forward, Dickson says she is starting to add a focus on human behaviour and how to notice patterns of decision making. This stems from a push from Avalanche Canada who is investing more into researching human behaviour and its impact on backcountry and avalanche rescue.

“It’s exciting to see how we can improve avalanche safety with that,” said Dickson.

If you can’t come this weekend, it’s no worries. Dickson says they’ll be offering the course about twice per month now that the season has started. They will also be offering Level 2 courses, as well as intermediate courses to take between Levels 1 and 2.

People come from all across the world to take these courses. According to Dickson, it’s not uncommon for people from the States or from Europe to try and sneak in a course while on vacation.

“Canada is the leading country with avalanche education so lots of people want to take their course in Canada,” said Dickson. “Lots of people on holidays are pretty stoked to take it.”

Dickson first started offering the courses because of her own love of the backcountry and snow science. After taking a series of professional level courses, people started asking her if she would start offering something, which led her to her avalanche training.

For Dickson, teaching these courses is a privilege, and something she enjoys immensely.

“I love showing people what they can get out of the mountains, I feel like people are usually surprised about how much there is to know,” said Dickson. “I love seeing people’s eyes open up and they just want to learn more.”

Golden is the perfect place to start your backcountry education, according to Dickson. Having the mountains at your doorstep makes for easy access, which also helps when it comes time to teaching the courses themselves.

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