Backcountry Trip Offers Education, Exercise, and Fun
Over Mid-Winter break, four Upper School students (Sam Turshman '21, Gage Bishop '21, Jaxon Gordon '21, and Oscar Mestres '22) participated in the Backcountry Ski & Splitboard Trip in the Mt. Baker Backcountry.
Lead by Martin Brakke (US Science), Catherine Klem (US Math), and Mike Elges of the Baker Mountain Guides, students participated in two courses: AIARE Level 1, the first step in Avalanche Education, and Backcountry Pro 1, a five-day course focused on hazard assessment, navigation, risk mitigation, decision making, touring skills, emergency protocol, and leadership.
Each morning the group met with their guide to discuss the hazard assessment, snow conditions, weather, and tour plan for the day. Starting at the Heather Meadows Backcountry Gate, near Mt. Baker Resort, the group strapped climbing skins on their touring skis and splitboards to begin their first ascent. Each day consisting of four thousand plus feet of human-powered vertical gain in "tour mode" and an equal amount of descent in "ski mode." They were blessed to have deep and fluffy powder, stable snowpack, and sunny and cool weather most days.
"We'd really like to see this trip build over the years and plan to continue with Baker Mountain Guides in the future. They're passionate about teaching our kids the essential skills necessary to navigate the Backcountry safely, to create an educational environment to learn these skills under the watchful eye of professionals, and to get some incredible lines in the process."