Glide Project brings backcountry education to schools | VailDaily.com

Glide Project brings backcountry education to schools

VAIL — Mountains are as dangerous as they are beautiful, a novel concept but one Chris Anthony is helping bring to local youth through the Glide Project — an extension of the pro skier and movie star's youth nonprofit foundation in conjunction with Paragon Guides.

Like many youth here in Eagle County, Anthony grew up skiing in bounds at a large resort — Crested Butte. He then transitioned, like many, into the racing program, refining his skills as a skier — in bounds.

"All of a sudden I was provided an opportunity because of a film to go into the backcountry, and I had no clue," Anthony said. "I was out there on my regular on-piste race gear, and my very first experience was in France to ski this couloir for a film shoot, and the whole thing broke and slid on me.

"So my very first big mountain experience was into an avalanche, and I thought wow, that's nothing you grow up with. You wouldn't ever know anything about this growing up in a ski area," he said.

“Here I was, an expert skier all through my youth but knew nothing about our mountains, and that’s kind of strange that we grow up here and don’t learn about it.”Chris AnthonyProfessional skier

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So Anthony is bucking that trend and visiting local schools, spreading awareness and continuing the Glide Project, a program underwriting much of the costs for local high school students to earn their Level 1 certificate, as well as similar programs for younger students.

The Glide Project ties into the school curriculum and teaches team building, snow science and better educates aspiring backcountry skiers and snowboarders about playing safely.

"It's just a wonderful community thing that's long overdue, much needed and already the community support has been awesome," Anthony said.

Grades 10-12 will take a course that earns them the AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Certificate; grades seven-nine will take a class about companion rescue and alpine skills; and a class for younger students will focus on introducing them to the basics.

The courses are based off of a Canadian curriculum, where a countrywide avalanche education program begins at kindergarten.

LACK OF EDUCATION

Heading into the backcountry is growing more and more popular in the Rocky Mountains, thanks to new technology and adventurous spirits like Anthony, but it's a different game going from the confines of in-bounds areas to out-of-bounds destinations.

"I didn't know anything about the backcountry," he said. "Here I was, an expert skier all through my youth but knew nothing about our mountains, and that's kind of strange that we grow up here and don't learn about it."

Anthony referenced kids in ocean towns learning about riptides, currents and how to enjoy the ocean safely, whereas that education about nature lacks in mountain communities.

"We've had a few incidents here in the valley, and there's been quite a few that have reached out and hit our youth," Anthony said.

Kelli Rohrig, of Paragon Guides, has heard troubling stories from local youth about nonchalantly going through gates at resorts. It's a helpless feeling, and that's why knows the importance of educating local youth. Anthony is also her brother.

"This is one of the first things we've worked on," Rohrig said.

Avalanche training goes well beyond avalanches, Rohrig said, and anyone — no matter the age — should be educated and equipped before passing through any boundary gate of a mountain.

LAUNCH PARTY

The Glide Project launches its second session on March 14 with a free event at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards. There will be a silent auction as well as presentation by Anthony. It will be Day 1 of a four-day course for the older students.

To donate to the Chris Anthony Youth Project, visit http://www.chrisanthony.com and click on the Youth Project link, or email Anthony at chris@chrisanthony.com. For more information, visit http://www.ParagonGuides.com.

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.

If you go …

What: The Glide Project.

Where: Battle Mountain High School.

When: March 14, doors open at 5 p.m.

Cost: Free.

More information: There will be a silent auction and Chris Anthony will give a presentation. Visit http://www.chrisanthony.com and click on the Youth Project tab to learn more, email chris@chrisanthony.com; or visit http://www.ParagonGuides.com.