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Experts spread avalanche awareness

Monday night, the Idaho Falls Ski Club and the American Avalanche Institute held the fifth annual Avalanche Awareness Night.

Skiers, Snowboarders and snowmobilers filed into Taylorview Middle School’s avalanche awareness meeting to learn more about safety in the backcountry.

Lani and Wray Landon, members of the Idaho Falls Ski Club, organized the meeting all five years. Avalanches awareness has become even more important to the Landons since their 30-year-old son died from an avalanche on South Teton.

“Caused a fracture in the snow and slid 2,000 feet to his death,” said Lani. “He knew what he was doing, but it was something that even taking courses couldn’t prevent.”

Don Carpenter, with the American Avalanche Institute, spoke to attendees about the fundamentals of snowpack, weather and terrain in the backcountry.

“The snowpack doesn’t like rapid change, so when it snows a lot we see avalanches occurring with high frequency,” said Carpenter. “Typically speaking, as the storm tapers off, avalanches taper off.”

Carpenter monitors the Teton Pass between Jackson and Driggs. He said decision making is crucial in the backcountry.

“They can knock you off your feet and you go for a short ride, and it’s over,” said Carpenter. “Or it can be a catastrophic several thousand feet ride.”

Attendee Brian Edgerton has been in two minor avalanches in Canada and the Tetons. He said experiencing one made him realize how important avalanche awareness is.

“You can always learn something,” said Edgerton. “And who knows? Your life may depend on it sometime.”

Carpenter suggests monitoring the local avalanche forecasts before traveling into the backcountry. Forecasts can be found at the Bridger Teton Avalanche Center’s website

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