A-Basin hosts fifth annual Beacon Bowl | VailDaily.com

A-Basin hosts fifth annual Beacon Bowl

Bob BerwynVail, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

SUMMIT COUNTY – A posse of ski patrollers, backcountry enthusiasts and avalanche experts will gather at A-Basin Saturday for the fifth annual Beacon Bowl, a friendly and fierce competition aimed at finding who is the fastest at finding a buried avalanche transceiver.The rivalry among local pro patrollers will likely stay hot, as repeat winner Jeff Farragi from Breckenridge Ski Area returns to defend his title agains last year’s runners-up Steve Christie and Bruce Edgerly.Along with race to find buried beacons, the event includes transceiver workshops, as well as snowpit and avalanche dog demos. The $10 registration fee for the all-day event will be donated to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

“Speed is of the essence,” said A-Basin snow safety supervisor Leif Borgeson. “It’s important to be familiar with the equipment and to practice, so that if the time comes to use it, you aren’t wasting any time.

“You can only hold your breath for so long.” Borgeson said,three-quarters of all avalanche deaths are attributed either to asphyxiation or hypothermia. Few people survive more than a few minutes buried under the snow when their airways are blocked, an ice mask forms around their face or they can’t expand and contract their lungs under the weight of the snow.In an avalanche, a victim’s best hope is being rescued quickly by a companion because yy the time search and rescue crews are mobilized and arrive at the scene of a slide, it’s often too late, he said.

And finding the beeper is only the first step. Additional skills are needed to then pinpoint the buried person with a probe pole and quickly dig them out. All these elements are part of the Beacon Bowl, which is one of the best venues in the county for avalanche education and awareness.A-Basin also just opened a full-time beacon training arena near the base of the Lenawee chairlift. A similar area has been open at Breckenridge for several years.Skiers and snowboarders can bring their own beacons and practice their search techniques, Borgeson said, adding that the ski area hopes to staff the beacon basin at least on weekends to help give avalanche search and rescue pointers.

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