Taking teens into the back counrty - Mountain Buzz

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Old 12-11-2006   #1
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 316
Taking teens into the back counrty

I am youth pastor that works with older teenagers. A few of them are very advanced snowboarders so I want to get them out of the resorts and into the back country. I want to take them some place that is super safe but at the same time unique. So I dont want to do loveland pass.

I have thought about Vail pass, Berthoud, and Geneva Basin. I have heard that you can sleep in an old building that is a part of Geneva basin is this true.

Any other thoughts?


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Old 12-11-2006   #2
Vail, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 334
First thing off the bat is that they need/must take a back country avelanche course. At no point should they go into any back country situation, "safer" or less safe, without this back country knowledge.
Once they have all been through the proper courses then the sky is the limit, it all depends if you want over nighters or just day back country trips. Good luck.
"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind"~Gandhi
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Old 12-11-2006   #3
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 652
Second Creek on the other side of Berthod Pass is pretty tame. It's also pretty.

While I think teenagers should be told how easy it is to die in an avalanche, I don't buy that you need all the damned avalanche training and the expensive equipment if you are taking them to a safe area.

Have them take turns reading the acident reports from the CAIC on the drive up. Getting respect for the danger is the main message. And learning how to spot dangerous slopes. Kids will hate a class, but if you read stories of stupid snowmobilers who die and dig a snow trench to show the weak layers, they will enjoy it.

Generally, the avalanche transciever is good for finding a dead body. Well, OK, you can dig someone out alive 1 in 3 chances, but you can save yourself 99 out of 100 by just not hitting the dangerous slopes.
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Old 12-12-2006   #4
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,888
Basil, I hear what you're saying, but those risks can't sometimes be avoided- this accident in Banff killed 7 people, all of whom had avalanche training and were traversing upslope in a valley across from the slide:


I saw a video with pics of this area and interviews with survivors. They had all the gear, looked at all the info, and made an educated decision... and a random event happened.

Especially with kids, I think you need to be over-cautious. If you 'learn em the cowboy way' now, and they're the ones that will be setting off slides above you on Berthoud in 5 years. You might be able to enlist a Level I instructor from NSP or one of the schools around the state to donate a day of 'education' (not a full Lvl I) in order to get these kids some info. Then MAYBE find a "safer" area, with trees, to take these kids into.

Hell, the liability issues alone are scary.
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Old 12-12-2006   #5
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 316
Hey guys,

Thanks so much for the responses so far.

I want you to know that I dont want to take these kids to a place where there is any risk. Basil I aggree with you that they are not going to be interested at all in classes... atleast untill they have had the opportunity to be in an environment where they will understand why this education would be practical for them. I honestly feel that once they have this experience it will open up a huge range of intrest for them. This is when I would like to follow it up with some education.

So if you have any ideas on tame places that would be sweet. Any thoughts on vail pass?

thanks again,
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Old 12-12-2006   #6
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 20
I would also say the montgomery bowls up cameron pass are pretty safe. but again, I dont think you will ever find a backcountry place that is SAFE. If any of the following are true:

a) taking kids snowboarding
b) going into the backcountry
c) not getting the proper training

then there is no way you can be at zero risk. it is just impossible. accidents happen. The intrinsic risks are what keep 99% of skiiers/boarders (and all Texans) on the resorts. But I'll bet the rate of injury/death there is much higher.

Not saying you shouldnt go, but dont think that you arent taking risks. I think it is a great idea though.

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Old 12-12-2006   #7
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 388
There are lots of safe neat places to go.

Vail pass is generally safe, but it's too crowded. Perhaps the trek to Red Cliff is good if you can manage shuttle.

Above Montezuma is good. What's that ghost town called?

Second Creek is good but a bit tough for new kids--you may need skins.

North of Fair Play has some good spots.

Rabbit Ears pass is cool. Lot's of places.
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Old 12-12-2006   #8
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 2,085
Sts. Johns is the town above Montezuma. Definately an enjoyable trek in for that one.

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Old 12-15-2006   #9
Salt Lake City, Utah
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 246
There is no safe place in the backcountry. Way too many factors to consider. Now, the legal ramifications. Do you have any idea what would happen if there were an accident? What are your backcountry qualifications? Does your church group carry insurance for this type of activity? I think not. What do the parents of these teens think? Even if I were an expert guide and they all had avalanche training, I would still not do it. It is just not worth the risk. Not only to the kids, but your career, the negative publicity it could give to your church and so on. I have been in the insurance business for 27 years and I see first hand what kind of a quandry you could get yourself into. And I don't even want to get into the media aspect. Would you like to be interviewed by Katie Curic (sp?) on national TV and try to explain why you took inexperienced teens into the backcountry? Not trying to burst your bubble, but these are the times we are living in.

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Old 12-15-2006   #10
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 388
I think you are over the top. The kids aren't climibing Mount Hood.
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