A-Basin hosts 5th annual Beacon Bowl | SummitDaily.com

A-Basin hosts 5th annual Beacon Bowl

BOB BERWYNsummit daily newsSummit County, CO, Colorado
Summit Daily/Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY A posse of ski patrollers, backcountry enthusiasts and avalanche experts will gather at A-Basin Saturday for the 5th annual Beacon Bowl, a friendly and fierce competition aimed at finding who is the fastest at finding a buried avalanche transceiver. The rivalry among local pro patrollers from and the Backcountry Access crew will likely stay hot, as repeat winner Jeff Farragi from Breckenridge Ski Area returns to defend his title agains last years runners-up Steve Christie and Bruce Edgerly.Along with race to find buried beacons, the event includes transceiver workshops, as well as snowpit and avalanche dog demos. The $10 registration fee for the all-day event will be donated to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.Speed is of the essence, said A-Basin snow safety supervisor Leif Borgeson, describing how crucial it is for backcountry travelers to know how to use with their rescue gear.Its important to be familiar with the equipment and to practice, so that if the time comes to use it, you arent wasting any time.You can only hold your breath for so long, Borgeson said, explaining that three-quarters of all avalanche deaths are attributed either to asphyxiation or hypothermia. Few people survive more than a few minutes of burial under the snow, as their airways are blocked, or an ice mask forms around their face, or they simply cant expand and contract their lungs under the weight of the debris.In a real-life rescue situation, an immediate companion rescue is definitely the best chance for a successful recovery, Borgeson said. By the time search and rescue crews are mobilized and arrive at the scene of a slide, its often too late, he said, encouraging backcountry enthusiasts to not only hone their own skills, but to make sure their buddies are equally adept at locating a buried signal.And finding the beeper is only the first step. Additional skills are needed to then pinpoint the buried person with a probe pole and quickly dig them out. All these elements are part of the Beacon Bowl, which is one of the best venues in the county for avalanche education and awareness.

For anyone who cant make Saturdays event, A-Basin also just opened a full-time beacon training arena near the base of the Lenawee chairlift. A similar area has been open at Breckenridge for several years.It just went operational, Borgeson said. Its a self-service area, where we can turn on anywhere from one to three targets per day, he continued. Ski area guests are welcome to bring their own beacons anytime and practice their search techniques, Borgeson said, adding that the ski area hopes to staff the basin at least on weekends to help give avalanche search and rescue pointers. A loaner probe is also available at the basin, and Borgeson said a strike plate located above each buried beacon triggers and alarm signal when its hit by a probe.Web extra: To view a slide show of last years Beacon Bowl, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/22063893%40N00/sets/72157594425768409/Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at bberwyn@summitdaily.com.

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