Wilderness training courses take place at Camp Hale | SummitDaily.com
Janice Kurbjun
Summit Daily News

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Wilderness training courses take place at Camp Hale

There’s no one emergency more common than the rest when it comes to wilderness medicine, so having wilderness first responder know-how could mean the difference between a mishap and a catastrophe – even for the general backcountry enthusiast.

The first step in wilderness medicine is “addressing issues before they become problematic,” Apex Mountain School director Scott Smith said. But the wilderness first responder course goes beyond avoidance. It teaches preparedness for the unexpected, whether it’s an asthma attack, a snake bite or a broken leg. It teaches the ability to assess a patient’s condition and stabilize him or her, and then to evaluate evacuation options, if needed.

It’s “knowledge that can keep you out of trouble,” Smith said.

Eagle-Vail’s Apex Mountain School has two upcoming wilderness first responder courses and re-certification courses held at Camp Hale, the historic training location for the 10th Mountain Division. They are slated for May 22-29 and June 12-19, with re-certification courses on May 21-22 and June 11-12.

“It’s one of the most beautiful places to take a wilderness first responder course,” said Scott Smith, director of Apex Mountain School. “It’s a really nice setting … there’s nothing around there.”

He said the courses, which can hold up to 35 people broken down into smaller groups, are designed for locals and visitors alike, ranging in experience from the adventurous layman to the professional mountain, raft or snowmobile guide looking to fill requirements or increase their marketability. Some parents take their children to the course so they’re safer and “can manage scenarios that are not as they planned,” Smith said.

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The course is condensed into seven days from the 10 for which the SOLO curriculum is designed.

It means longer days, including one nighttime simulated search and rescue scenario, Smith said, but it’s a way to cater to the needs of pupils who can afford to take just one week off work and who want to learn one of the longest-standing, most-respected curriculums in the world. Courses start at 4 p.m. the first Sunday and run until 1 p.m. the following Sunday.

Participants can choose from lodging options in Minturn and Leadville as well as on-site cabins (for a fee) and free camping a moment’s walk from the lodge where the classes are held.

It’s $675 for the seven-day course and $290 for the re-certification (plus $35 if CPR is needed). There’s no deadline to register, but Smith recommends getting signed up sooner rather than later.

Apex Mountain School offers other wilderness first responder courses beyond these two, Smith said, as well as education in all of its disciplines – rock climbing, ice climbing, backcountry ski and mountaineering. The company, in existence for 10 years, has two divisions other than its education sector. The guiding division is designed to take interested outdoors people on excursions. And the corporate team building branch has been long-standing but is gaining momentum in recent years.

“The motivation behind providing the courses is a community service,” Smith said, explaining that central mountain locals were looking for a place to further their knowledge in backcountry skills.