Big Heart Big Hands offers Winter Safety 101, Trauma Help on March 3 |

Big Heart Big Hands offers Winter Safety 101, Trauma Help on March 3

Daily staff report
Join Big Heart Big Hands and Desert Moutain Medicine on Saturday, March 3, for a free full-day Winter Safety 101 workshop in Minturn. For more information and to find an application, visit
Special to the Daily |

VAIL — In efforts to support the awareness and implementation of mountain safety education, and to help those who have been impacted by mountain incidents, Vail-based nonprofit organization Big Heart Big Hands has announced upcoming programming and a new community offering.

Winter Safety 101

On Saturday, March 3, Big Heart Big Hands has partnered with Desert Mountain Medicine to present a free full-day Winter Safety 101 workshop at the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy in Minturn. The course is underwritten by Survival Frog, and lunch and giveaways will be included.

“Desert Mountain Medicine empowers people with the knowledge of wilderness medicine,” said Tyler Harris, director of operations for Desert Mountain Medicine. “Our teaching approach heavily favors hands-on, scenario-based practice taught in wilderness settings. We pride ourselves on the dynamic delivery of course curriculum using innovative educational techniques and integrative scenarios. We strive to deliver professional courses that are rich in quality, consistency and effectiveness while still having fun ‘in the classroom.’”

The course will be packed with information, providing an overview of the numerous topics that comprise winter mountain safety.

“With a focus on prevention, attendees will develop a better understanding how to help avoid or prepare for the most common mountain winter emergencies,” Harris said. “This will provide attendees with a solid foundation of understanding, upon which they can build. We will provide resources and suggestions for continuing their education on this vast subject.”

Harris said skills like these are vital to know because no one is immune from winter mountain emergencies.

“Our high altitude, winter environment is especially volatile and accidents can happen to anyone,” he said. “Even if your recreation group is well prepared, consider the high probability of interacting with a lesser prepared group or individual.

Learning these skills can not only increase your enjoyment while recreating in the outdoors, but also help mitigate possible threats in worst case scenarios. This one-day course is a great introduction to keeping yourself and others safe and comfortable in the mountains. Registration is limited to 25 participants. Find the online link to register for this free course at

Trauma Support

Additionally, Big Heart Big Hands is working with Jessica Heaney, licensed clinical social worker, to provide counseling support for those impacted by mountain incidents. Heaney works to help individuals and families heal and get back to their love for the outdoors.

“When we or someone we love has been harmed or injured, it impacts our emotional well-being. It’s just how we’re wired,” Heaney said. “Having support following a traumatic experience is critical to healing and getting back to living a life you love. Too often I see individuals in our valley dismiss the impact of witnessing and being a part of traumatic events in the backcountry. Maybe it’s stigma. Maybe it’s fear of asking for help. But I know any experience left unprocessed and unhealed continues to bear a heavy burden and often manifests in symptoms like depression and anxiety.”

Heaney first learned about the efforts of Mountain Rescue through her husband, as he is a volunteer.

“I’ve been struck by the trauma the volunteers are exposed to and the impact to individuals being rescued as well as their friends and families,” she said. “When I heard about the mission of Big Heart Big Hands, it felt like a natural fit and I felt compelled to see if I could help in any way. I am thrilled to partner with BHBH and more so thrilled to be a support in helping individuals continue living a life of loving the outdoors.”

For more information on upcoming events and to find the counseling application, visit


Big Heart Big Hands believes that backcountry safety starts off the mountain. The local nonprofit was founded in 2015 and raises money for mountain rescue organizations and supports the awareness and implementation of mountain safety education. Big Heart Big Hands was founded in memory of Jarod Wetherell, who passed away while hiking the Maroon Bells peaks outside of Aspen in October of 2014.

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