KETCHUM — It is critical for backcountry adventurists to not only have the proper avalanche rescue gear, but they also need to know how to use it.
To help people prepare for the backcountry, the Sawtooth Avalanche Center has set up a beacon training area just north of Ketchum for people to simulate the search for someone buried in an avalanche.
"The very basic gear you should always carry everyday out in the backcountry is a transceiver, a probe and a shovel," said Ethan Davis of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center. "We also recommend picking up an airbag backpack or balloon pack."
The airbag pack inflates the backpack and helps keep a person on top of a moving avalanche while also making that person more visible.
There are multiple different brands and styles of these packs and they have evolved over the years with new technology.
The latest includes a fan that inflates the pack and allows people to practice using them, the older style included an air canister that needed to be refilled after every use.
People can still be buried and die in avalanches even if they have an airbag pack, that is why it is so important to practice rescue skills and recreate in the backcountry with people who have the proper equipment and know how to use it.
"I practice for my friends because I'm always skiing with my buddies and if we were to trigger an avalanche I want to know that I can rescue them as fast as possible," said Emma Wood an avid backcountry skier.
For more on how to check the avalanche conditions the Sawtooth Avalanche Center manages, here is a link to part one of our story on avalanche awareness.