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Backcountry-Skiing Classes

The first backcountry ski class was held November 9 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and covered appropriate ski gear for different types of skiers. Whether the desire is to ski snowed-over roads or descend steep mountain chutes, we discussed gear that best-suited different backcountry niches.

Besides discussing different weights, widths, and stiffnesses of AT and telemark equipment, we also discussed the accessories -- avalanche gear (transceivers, probes, and shovels) and what you should consider carrying in the pack.

Here are the notes from the evening with lots of equipment suggestions, gear manufacturers to consider, and links to more articles about backcountry skiing gear.

Details about the classes yet to come are listed below. Next week we get into Avalanche ABCs. Meeting time: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., November 16. Meeting place: upstairs at the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust (18 N Wenatchee Avenue).

 Photo: Why wouldn't you want to backcountry ski (or ski tour) when it takes you to places like this?

This year’s backcountry skiing classes, organized by WenatcheeOutdoors will be useful to anyone wanting to explore the mountains in winter regardless of whether their interests lean toward steep terrain or snowed-over roads.

Photo: Thinner, longer telemark skis, or shorter, fatter randonnee skis. Which is best for you? The equipment sessions will help you decide?

Some sessions will focus on ski equipment, but most sessions will be valuable to skiers, snowshoers, winter mountaineers, and/or splitboarders.

Photo:  Our information will benefit all winter travelers, not just skiers.

Sessions will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:15 m.or 7:30 p.m.) on Wednesdays. All sessions except the first will be held upstairs at the Land Trust (18 N Wenatchee Avenue)Here’s the schedule.

November 9:  Equipment Overview. Types of backcountry rigs and other hardware.

November 16: Avalanche ABCs (at Land Trust).

November 30: Hour 1: Modern Backcountry Skis and Soft goods with Adam Mckenney from LMS. Hour 2: Pre-Trip Weather and Snow Analysis, Route Selection, Planning Tools (at Land Trust).

December 7: Beacon Searches and Strategic Shoveling (at Land Trust).

December 14:  Map, Compass, and Navigation basics (Land Trust office).

These sessions are all self-standing and don't build upon each other. Attend the sessions that fill knowledge holes or that fit your schedule. 

If you're interested in these sessions, email us so we get you on the 'interested parties' list that keeps everyone updated.

     Photo below: Between Stevens Pass, Blewett Pass, the Wenatchee Mountains, and our foothills, we have an inordinate amount of terrain, snows, and climates to choose from.

    The first session of these classes will be held at the Wenatchee Valley Medical Center's Sleep Lab conference room on Miller Street.

    We will also develop a roster of on-snow instructional outings and ski outings to complement these classroom sessions. Some of the outings will work on specific skills (transceiver rescues, strategic shoveling, uphill technique, snow analysis, route finding), while other outings will be destination oriented so that advanced-beginners and intermediate skiers get some travel time in the company of more experienced skiers.

    Photo below: Skinning uphill through a stand of lodgepole pines in the Stemilt Basin.

    Note: The people teaching our classroom sessions and leading our outings are not professionals. They are experienced locals but they don't pretend to be as experienced, as knowledgeable, or as well-trained as professionals. If you participate in any of the outings organized, you agree you are participating in a shared event where everyone has a say in how the day progresses. No person or organization will be held responsible or liabel for problems or accidents that might occur. The odds of a problem or an accident are small, but by participating you agree that you will participate in the decisions made and problems/mistakes belong equally to everyone in the group. If you can't accept these terms, you should not participate in our outings. Instead, find a professional to hire.

    Photo below: Plowing the powderfields on the north side of Cashmere Mountain.

    Cost. There is no mandatory fee affiliated with our classroom sessions. It does, however, require time and resources to put these programs together and, if you feel the sessions were worthwhile, please consider making a donation to WenatcheeOutdoors to help offset the time we devoted to organizing these sessions. The same applies to the on-snow sessions: please consider making a donation to WenatcheeOutdoors.org so we can justify the time involved in putting them together.Also, for the on-snow outings, all participants should share equally in the transportation costs associated with the outing.


     Photo above by Shane Wilder. Flying like a Bird in the Stevens Pass backcountry.