Be 14 for a few minutes. That may be easy if you’re still into fart jokes or listen to a lot of Justin Bieber. It’s a powder day at Vail and, along with 17 other teenagers, you’re in a private, roped off area at the top of China Bowl. But you’re not skiing. Yet. Instead, you’re watching J.P. Auclair demonstrate how to probe for victims buried in an avalanche.
With him are Seth Koch, a lead guide with Alaska Heliskiing and lead instructor at the Alaska Guide School and Andy Wenberg of Backcountry Access. In this two-day class, you learn the basics of avalanche safety, and beacon and probe searches, and get to shred a foot and a half of pow with icons of the skiing world. Not your typical avalanche safety class.