Steven’s Pass, Instructor Training Course

This past Thursday concluded a 3 day American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Instructor Training Course (ITC) in Steven’s Pass, Washington. Three other Eastern Mountain Sports School Guides and I headed west to the Cascades to improve our ability to provide high quality avalanche education that has become synonymous with EMS Schools and AIARE courses.

Steven’s Pass is on Route 2, about 2 hours east of Seattle, between Skykomish and Leavensworth

Steven’s Pass is on Route 2, about 2 hours east of Seattle, between Skykomish and Leavensworth

Steven’s Pass is a very impressive and notable place to focus on avalanche education. Not only from the high profile accident that happened last year that resulted it this recently published (and graphically impressive) NY Times web article but it was also the location of the deadliest avalanche in US history!

We left my house in Conway, NH at 3am Monday, and 21 hours (and 3,400 miles) later we arrived at the Mountaineer’s Lodge on the edge of the Steven’s Pass Ski Resort.

The Seattle based “Mountaineer’s” maintain this lodge on the edge of the ski resort...

The Seattle based “Mountaineer’s” maintain this lodge on the edge of the ski resort…

The next morning we joined the 14 other participants comprised of guides, ski patrollers, and outdoor educators, along with the three facilitators, Margaret Wheeler, of the American Mountain Guide Association, Larry Goldie, IMFGA and owner of North Cascades Mountain Guides, and Scott Schnell, of the North West Avalanche Center. We could not hope for a more skilled group of facilitators to convey the info and knowledge packed into this 3 day “conference” of sorts.

Day 1 was adjusted to include quite a bit of classroom as MN (Mother Nature) was gracing us east coasters with something we were pretty familiar with… rain.

Some classroom time

A break during the some classroom time

On Day 2 we spent the majority of the afternoon conducting very beneficial field sessions, and in the end got in a few good turns (by east coast standards).

Some group discussion about making observations

Some group discussion about making observations

Making some terrain decisions

Making some terrain decisions

Our short tour on Day 2

Our short tour on Day 2

By Day 3 however the temps had dropped, the powder had fallen, and our ski tour allowed for close to 1,200 feet of vert. interspersed with some peer on peer instruction. We traveled along the Pacific Crest Trail then ascended Stormy’s Ridge next to Moonlight Bowl…

Skinning out along the PCT

Skinning out along the PCT

Starting the climb up to Stormy's

Starting the climb up to Stormy’s

Getting close to our highpoint

Getting close to our highpoint

We took a short 700 foot lap then skinned back up from some more:

Stormy’s Ridge Tour

Stormy’s Ridge Tour

The course wrapped up Thursday night, but we had planned to stay an extra day to play and luck was definitely with us as Friday dawned clear and cold. We grabbed lift tickets for the resort, and I got to experience my first solid taste of “side-country”.

We traversed the entire resort Euro style by heading straight for the 7th Heaven chair, then traversing the ridge from Cowboy Mountain over to Big Chief with a few steep runs in-between.

Our lift assisted tour ;)

Our lift assisted tour ;)

After gaining the ridge we set our eyes on the untouched powder visible on the south slopes of Big Chief:

Southside of Big Chief

Southside of Big Chief

The day inspired my to toss together yet another cheezy home vid collaige of the day:

I’m still trying to absorb all the info I’ve gathered over the last 4 days. From conversations with fellow educators, to coaching from some of the industry’s highest avalanche professionals, to practical experience in a new snow climate and mountain range, I’ve walked away feeling more confident than ever at delivering the mission statement of AIARE “Save lives through education”. And now, through EMS Schools commitment to guide training we’ll be able to continue that mission on a scale close to double what we were providing! Now if some of that coastal snow would follow me home we should be all set for a great course in two weekends!

About these ads

About David Lottmann

David grew up skiing in the Whites and started climbing at a summer camp just north of Mt. Washington when he was 16. Those first couple of years solidified climbing as a lifetime passion. From 1996-2000 he served in the USMC, and spent the better part of those years traveling the globe (18 countries). After returning to civilian life he moved to North Conway to focus on climbing and was hired in 2004 as a Rock and Ice Instructor. Since then Dave has taken numerous AMGA courses, most recently attaining a Single Pitch Instructor. He has completed a Level 3 AIARE avalanche course, is a Level 2 Course Leader, holds a valid Wilderness First Responder and is a member of Mountain Rescue Service. When David isn't out guiding he enjoys mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, backcountry skiing, trying to cook something new once a week and sampling new micro-brews. He lives in Conway, NH with his wife Michelle and son Alex.
This entry was posted in Avalanche Courses, Backcountry Skiing, Professional Development and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Steven’s Pass, Instructor Training Course

  1. Dave, thanks for the write-up. And sure looks different than our ITC way back in mid-December 2006 — the only snow I saw during the entire three days was when I skinned up for a few early-morning laps on my own on the WROD at nearby Wildcat!

    • David Lottmann says:

      You couldn’t be more correct Jonathan… this ITC helped solidify so many things for me I can’t wait for the next course I am teaching… to often we are trapped in a bubble and these ITC’s are so awesome at busting them!

  2. Pingback: AIARE 1 Avalanche Course 1/25/13 – 1/27/13 | David Lottmann's Guiding Blog

  3. Pingback: 2012/2013 Avalanche Course Season Recap | David Lottmann's Guiding Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s