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Intro to Backcountry Skiing: January 28th, 2011

Skiers getting ready to skin uphill in Hidden Valley
As January wrapped up, a high pressure system moved through the Colorado Front Range.  This set up a perfect day to ski tour through Rocky Mountain National Park with Colorado Mountain School guests, The Bray’s. 

Our goals for the Introduction to Back Country Skiing Course were efficient uphill travel techniques, avalanche safety and a beautiful ski tour.  We started the day focusing on gentle ways to turn switchbacks while focusing on movement skills as well as kick turning in steeper terrain.  

We traveled up to the timberline zone and found some test slopes. Our goal was to find out some more observations in the snowpack.  We dug a few pits finding layers, rating the hardness of those layers and discussing some snowpack tests.

Based on all of the observations throughout the day, we decided to not push into the alpine zone and stick with some of the great powder stashes below tree line. After finding some fun introductory lines we made a pleasant ski descent through the glades back to the parking area. At the end of the day, we took advantage of the moderate temps and remaining sunlight to practice some companion rescue with avalanche transceivers .

We had a great time skiing in the beautiful position of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Thanks to the Bray’s for sharing the day with me and I look forward to getting out with you again soon.
If your interested in backcountry skiing, avalanche education or ski mountaineering, join one of CMS’s programs this winter. 
Hope to see you in the backcountry,

Joey Thompson
CMS Guide

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