Training to teach

by • November 28, 2016 • Featured Photos, Safety MattersComments Off on Training to teach1129

Jim Whisman, a longtime Alaska glacier rider, is joined by friends for a ride to explore Alaska.

Jim Whisman, a longtime Alaska glacier rider, is joined by friends for a ride to explore Alaska. Courtesy of Debra McGhan.

Classes help apprentices become safe snowmachiners

Whether it’s the Polaris AXYS Pro-RMK, snowmachine reviewers pick of the year for mountain sleds, or the most improved Arctic Cat M8000, or how about the Ski-Doo XM Summit or mighty four-stroke Yamaha M-TX-LE, powder riding in the mountains is the stuff snowmachiners dream and drool over.
This year, no matter what sled you choose to ride in the snow, preparing your brain for safe riding should be at the top of your list. But if you’ve been looking for the right class or workshop, taught by qualified teachers that are true riders, you may have discovered that it’s not an easy task. Alaska has a real deficit when it comes to trainers qualified to teach this stuff.
“It’s been one of our biggest challenges in this state,” said Sarah Carter, the education director for the Alaska Avalanche Information Center. “But this year, with support from the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE,) we are working to change that.”
The first motorized, avalanche Instructor Training course to be held in Alaska is set for Dec. 9-13 at Black Rapids Lodge near Summit Lake. This is a five-day course will require participants to meet the stringent requirements sent by AIARE.
According to its website, “AIARE supports the long-held tradition of mentorship of aspiring avalanche instructors or apprentices.” AIARE defines apprentices as aspiring instructors who do not yet meet the AIARE 1 Instructor qualifications. One apprentice can assist in each field group, under the direct supervision and mentorship of an AIARE course leader or instructor. During this apprenticeship, individuals gain familiarity with the AIARE curriculum, as well as building reference experiences, which form an essential foundation for engaged participation in the AIARE Instructor Training Course (ITC). Apprentice instructors with no less than five years of backcountry travel experience may register for the ITC once they have observed a minimum of one AIARE 1 and AIARE 2 program.
“We are striving to build a qualified workforce of instructors,” explained Carter. “And to do that takes time and a lot of effort. But it has become a critical need to increase the number of instructors we have in Alaska, especially where it relates to the motorized community.”
If you have any interest in becoming a snowmachine trainer in Alaska, check out the December ITC or email to let her know you are considering this route. The Alaska Avalanche Information Center is hoping to secure funding support to help offset a portion of the cost of this course in an effort to encourage more people to get involved and participate.
“There is a lot of amazing terrain, and some incredible sleds with the power to explore that terrain,” Carter said. “Now we just need qualified instructors to help people get the skills they need to access and enjoy this terrain safely.”
If you don’t want to teach but do want training, contact Carter to let her know and she’ll be sure and keep you up to date on public motorized training courses that will be available this season.
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