Arapahoe Basin Ski Area’s annual Beacon Bowl and Avalanche Awareness Day returns for its 12th year, Saturday, Feb. 8.
The full day of activities is open to the public and includes avalanche beacon search competitions, avalanche awareness demonstrations and an aprés ski party with a silent auction, raffle and food specials. Prizes include about $10,000 in ski and snowboard gear.
“The whole day is an awesome way for the novice to get introduced to backcountry rescue methods and gear, as well as a fun way for backcountry pros to put their skills to the test,” A-Basin spokeswoman Adrienne Saia Isaac said. “Not only is it for a good cause, it’s a great time. A-Basin throws a great party and we love to be able to help out the CAIC.”
All proceeds from the days events benefit the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the state and publicly funded organization responsible for avalanche forecasting, safety initiatives and community education programs. Most people likely associate the organization with backcountry forecasting, but it also assists CDOT with highway avalanche mitigation.
“The CDOT side is the side that people don’t know a whole lot about,” Friends of CAIC executive director Aaron Carlson said. “Half of what the CAIC does is work in conjunction with CDOT to keep the highways clear.”
The group’s work includes forecasting along state highways and avalanche mitigation to prevent or reduce highway closures.
A-Basin’s day of festivities kicks off at 8 a.m. with registration for the Beacon Bowl avalanche beacon search competition. Participants will be divided into two divisions — pro and recreational — and compete in teams to find mountain avy beacons buried in the snow. Preliminary rounds are scheduled for 9 a.m., with the finals planned for 1 p.m. The beacon search competition will take place at midmountain near the Black Mountain Lodge and the Lenawee chair — below the East Wall.
A-Basin also will host an avalanche dog and rescue shoveling demonstration starting at 10:30 a.m. near the same location.
Additionally, gear reps will be on hand in the base area all day, running avalanche beacon clinics and ski gear demos. Guests are invited to attend the aprés ski party, raffle and auction starting at 3 p.m.
“It’s one of my favorite events. It’s super important to us,” Carlson said. “The aprés party is one of the best parties of the season. Between the raffle and the auction we give away around $10,000 worth of product.”
Last year’s Beacon Bowl raised about $10,000 for the CAIC, making it one of the organization’s largest public fundraisers.
“The CAIC does an extraordinary job — on a limited budget — of forecasting conditions for Colorado skiers and riders,” A-Basin’s COO Alan Hencroth said. “It’s our hope that the Beacon Bowl will raise some money to help them carry out their critical mission.”
Avalanches have already accounted for two fatalities in Colorado this season. And with this year’s high snowfall they will continue to be a threat.