Utah Avalanche Center Partners With Backcountry.com to Develop First Avalanche Education Program for Young Adults in Utah

Following a Winter That Saw Three Youth Avalanche Fatalities in Utah, 'Know

Before You Go' to Deliver Fundamental Backcountry Knowledge to Area Schools

Sep 30, 2004, 01:00 ET from Utah Avalanche Center

    HEBER CITY, Utah, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Forest Service Utah
 Avalanche Center today announced that it will partner with Backcountry.com,
 the Web's fastest growing destination for high-end specialty outdoor gear, to
 develop a first-of-its-kind avalanche safety campaign specifically developed
 for and targeted to school-age children in Utah.  Called "Know Before You Go,"
 the one hour education program will be taught in participating junior high and
 high schools in Utah as an annual assembly, to any gathering of young outdoor
 enthusiasts such as Boy Scout troops and to outdoor recreation programs at
 universities.  As of early September, more than 30 area schools had expressed
 interest in the program.
     The program has three parts: a 15-minute, narrated video showing
 avalanches, people triggering avalanches and the destructive power of
 avalanches; a local avalanche professional telling stories about close calls
 or accidents they have experienced; and a 15 -minute PowerPoint presentation
 about the basics of how to recognize avalanche terrain, how to recognize
 obvious signs of instability, safe travel practices, an overview of avalanche
 rescue equipment and self-rescue procedures, and where to obtain information
 about current avalanche conditions.
     "A critical need exists for basic avalanche education for junior high
 through college age students in Utah," said Craig Gordon, an avalanche
 forecaster at the Utah Avalanche Center.  "Just as students in Hawaii learn
 about the dangers of rip tides and shore breaks at an early age, students in
 Utah need to learn about avalanches.  The rising numbers of young avalanche
 victims have demonstrated an obvious need for basic avalanche education."
     One and a half million Utah residents live immediately adjacent to some of
 the most dangerous and easily accessible avalanche terrain in the United
 States.  Over the past eight years, nine young snowboarders have died in
 avalanches in Utah.
     The most notorious event occurred on the day after Christmas in 2003.
 Fourteen people were recreating near Aspen Grove in the run-out zone of one of
 the largest avalanche paths in Utah during one of the most intense snowstorms
 Utah had experienced in several years.  Three young snowboarders died in a
 massive avalanche.
     "After last season's disaster in Aspen Grove, it became clear that the
 backcountry was attracting a younger, less-savvy group of users," said Dustin
 Robertson, Backcountry.com's marketing director.  "It was also clear that a
 basic avalanche education could have prevented these deaths.  It is our hope
 not only that this will save lives of children in Utah, but that the program
 can be modeled in other North American mountain communities as well."
     About The Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center:
     The Forest Service Utah Avalanche Center has operated since 1980 and
 provides daily backcountry avalanche and mountain weather information to the
 public who recreate in Utah's backcountry.  The Utah Avalanche Center is
 recognized as one of the top regional avalanche centers in North America.  The
 Utah Avalanche Center staff has appeared on over a dozen national and
 international documentaries about avalanches and is regularly featured on most
 of the national news networks.  In addition to forecasting duties, the UAC
 staff teaches dozens of avalanche courses throughout northern Utah each season
 and is in high demand as avalanche educators.  The center is co-located at the
 National Weather Service Forecast Office near the Salt Lake City Airport.
     For full release, visit

SOURCE Utah Avalanche Center