AIARE 1 w/ Eva

Eva was a recipient of the 2020 scholarship for outdoor education.

Last year, I was incredibly lucky to receive a scholarship from Backcountry Squatters that allowed me to take an AIARE Level 1 course. I had been wanting to take a course for so long but was always intimated by the expense of it. When I saw that Backcountry Squatters was offering scholarships for outdoor education I jumped at the opportunity. I poured my heart into the application and was hopeful that I could maybe, finally take the course. Then, one late January evening, I received news that I got it!!! I cried tears of joy and was so thankful for BC Squats generosity and kindness. I immediately started looking into classes and found one to take in mid-February. I luckily had most of the gear from slowly collecting it over the years. I bought the last few necessities and was stoked and ready to take the class!!

The AIARE Level 1 course consisted of two classroom sessions (on zoom) and two field days. The classroom sessions were led by the three instructors, and we learned how to recognize avalanche zones, the safest way to navigate them, and how to jointly make decisions based on the terrain. We also discussed scenarios in which a rescue would be necessary and what to do in those situations. Much of the emphasis in class was on the importance of trip planning and communicating with your group.

After our two classroom sessions, we were ready to get up to Mount Baker and apply what we learned. The class was split into three groups. I was so happy to be in the group with a woman instructor. She was so rad. The first day up at the mountain, we practiced using our beacons, probes, and shovels to locate a “person” (beacon) buried in the snow. We practiced this several times in pairs. Then, we dug pits and learned about the snowpack and how to identify unstable and stable layers. We had a lot of group conversations about each topic. We ended the day discussing our plan of action for the following day. The day we go touring!

The next day, we met at the mountain for our tour. This was the day that we put everything we learned into action. We talked about our route, sharing our excitements and uncertainties. Once everyone was feeling confident in our plan, we put on our skins and headed out of bounds. The snow was perfect that day. It had snowed much of the night, and it was dusting throughout the day. So there was a beautiful layer of fluffy snow on a solid snowpack. After about a mile, we got to our planned spot. We ate some lunch and the took our first turns. And wowwwww were they some dreamy ones. We skinned back up and decided that we wanted more. So, we went up even further and took another amazing run. I was hooked.

I had been backcountry skiing before with my dad, but this was different. I felt so rewarded for the time that I had just put in learning about avalanche safety. It made me so excited for all my backcountry adventures to come. Many of my friend’s backcountry ski and snowboard so I can now join in on their trips because I have basic knowledge of avalanche safety and can execute a rescue if need be. I am hyped for the many, many adventures to come! I also hope to further my avalanche safety knowledge by taking more courses in the future. Thank you so much Backcountry Squatters for making my ski dreams come true!!! All my love!!

-Eva Copley

2020 Backcountry Squatters Non-Profit Scholarship Recipient

Eva is an undergraduate student at Western Washington University based in Bellingham, WA. She found Squatters through some friends at another school and has been on the founding exec team for the club for the past year.

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