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Slope Safety Gets Heightened Attention During January

Avi dogs at Crested Butte

The goal of any run on snowboard or skis is to make it from top to bottom with a smile on your face – and all your limbs intact. To that end, the National Ski Areas Association has labeled January as Safety Month to heighten awareness of staying healthy on the slopes.


Some resorts will host specific activities and gatherings, while others will highlight what ski patrollers and guest guides do on the mountain to keep things safe.


“Technology continues to play a role in ski safety, on both resort and guest side,” Jenn Rudolph of Colorado Ski Country USA, told SnoCountry.com “For example, resort apps with GPS, such as Copper’s Sherpa app, enable patrol to easily find your location. Also, both resort patrol teams and some cat skiing operations are starting to issue BCA Float packs or ava lungs as part of their standard equipment.”


Each of the four mountains in the Aspen-Snowmass complex will host specific safety-related events during the month. 


Aspen Highlands patrol will take visitors on a safety-beacon dry run down a bowl. At Snowmass, binding checks and helmet demos go on through Jan. 18 at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola. Buttermilk hosts a safety-poster contest for kids during the last week of the month, and Aspen Mountain patrol will post daily tips along the trails, as well as avalanche beacon and avalanche dog demos.


At some other Colorado resorts, here’s what’s going on:


Arapahoe Basin. Safety Village goes up Jan. 18-19 at the base, with helmets for a donation, free cake if kids know the Skier’s Responsibility Code, and avalanche dog trading cards.


Copper Mountain. Anytime chats with ski patrol at weekend Safety Zone Tends, end-of-day sweeps with invited guests and patrol, and new Siesta Zone rest areas on the hill for skiers and riders who want to pull off the main trail for a safe rest.


Crested Butte. Daily safety topics come from resort departments, avalanche dog demos every Saturday, and safety trivia contest posted at the base of different lifts.


Loveland. “Know the Code” competitions with giveaways, avalanche awareness info and safety handouts at the terrain park highlight the efforts. 


Monarch. Skiers and riders search for Know the Code gold bars, then recite skiers’ code to win prizes, as does the best new safety slogan.


Sunlight. Safety posters go up all over the mountain, and volunteers hand out safety info in lift lines.


Winter Park. Recite the code and enter a drawing for a 2014-2015 season pass, and create a safety poster and win a day skiing with the patrol.


Wolf Creek. Avalanche burial drills with avalanche dogs in Prospector Bowl can be viewed from top of Tranquility. Every ski or snowboard lesson includes responsibility code discussion.


Photo: Avalanche dogs, relaxed but ready, at Crested Butte (Crested Butte)

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