Someone recently told me that if you are an expert at something, you have nothing more to learn. I happen to agree with this statement. No matter how good you think you are at something, there is always more to learn. When we stop learning, we stop dying…or something like that.
The reason for this is this past weekend I took a backcountry avalanche safety course with two buddies. The point of this course is to try and educate you on the risks and benefit of taking your skiing or snowboarding to the next level by going “out of bounds”. The benefit is you get to experience a thrill that few do. The risk is that you may experience a different type of thrill (getting caught in an avalanche) that you weren’t really hoping for. I believe the biggest takeaway from this course was that experience in the field is tough to beat, but no matter how experienced you are, it doesn’t excuse stupidity.
That said, the course was taken through Apex Ex, a local outfit out of Golden, CO. While their online coursework seemed a bit redundant, the field training was very informative and helpful. I do feel a bit like I’ll never fully be prepared to go into some true wilderness situations, but I at least have the basics to get started safely, and enjoy a backcountry trip or three throughout the season.
I think the biggest takeaway is that you can never be too prepared for trekking through the wilderness. Having gone snowshoeing a few times, I now see that a course like this can be beneficial to folks of all ability levels. If you are thinking of going on a few of these trips, please, at least read through a few “what do I do if…” scenarios. You’ll be happy you did.