After 20 years of snowmobiling in the mountains, last Feb I decided to take the AST1 level Avalanche Skills Training Course that Zac’s Tracs was putting on at Bonnyville. This was a two evening session in my home town, so I figured what the heck, I can take the time and take the course.
During the classroom course I couldn’t help but think that I was already doing a lot of the right things, but that it took me twenty years to get that figured out. Lori Zacaruk was our instructor, and she does a very good job conveying the importance of avalanche awareness and safety. It was a very humbling experience to know that I learned in two evenings as much if not more than I had in twenty years of riding in the mountains. With that I pledged to myself that I would take the field Training portion as soon as I could. That same night I signed up for the Field training session in Valemount.
That was last year. Come Feb of this year I was again pleased to know that I had learned a whole lot more about avalanche awareness. I was bummed out to learn that Lori wasn’t going to be our instructor for the field training session but rather some long hair hippy snowboard looking dude named Eric. There was another lesson learned. Never judge a book by its cover. Eric is an excellent instructor that is not only passionate about avalanche awareness but also well experience in avalanches.
Well one year later and I’m in a Classroom again with Lori as an instructor. This time it’s a one evening course. The Indoor Rescue Workshop. This work shop is another valuable lesson that I can take out to the mountains with me to help ensure that my friends and I have the necessary training to safely enjoy our snowmobiling experience in the mountains.
At the end of the course Lori asked me if I thought that after taking the AST1 if there was any value in taking the workshop. My answer to her was absolutely. I told her that at first I thought that the Rescue Workshop would be a good refresher but turns out that it’s just another chapter to an ongoing learning experience.
My advice to anyone that does any snowmobiling in the mountains or any winter outdoor activities in the mountains, take the AST1 Avalanche Skills Training Course and Indoor Rescue Workshop, the two complement each other. Zac’s Tracs and their staff come highly recommended and I have nothing but great things to say about them. Lori I would like to thank you and Dawn personally for your dedication to Avalanche Awareness and could you please pass on a thank-you to Eric for his great work as well.
Ron Charawich, Bonnyville, AB Nov 2015