Avalanche Awareness for Women in Bend

| Fall 2014 |
For the second year in a row, SheJumps and the Central Oregon Avalanche Association (COAA) teamed up to bring a Know Before You Go avalanche awareness evening to the ladies of central Oregon.

Last year’s inaugural event, held in downtown Bend at Crow’s Feet Commons, exceeded everyone’s expectations. The house was packed! Women with hugely different backgrounds came to hear Betsy Norsen, Mt. Bachelor ski patroller and BCA pro ambassador, talk about avalanches: how people get in trouble, how to avoid them, and the appropriate gear for backcountry travel.

2013 SheJumps / COAA Know Before You Go. Photo by Golden Trail Photography

This year, we moved to the larger venue at Cascade Lakes Brewing, and had plenty of room for the 35 ladies who braved freezing rain and slippery roads to learn about avalanches, or get an early-season refresher.

Betsy Norsen addressing the ladies of SheJumps. Photo by Golden Trail Photography

For a backcountry traveler, you can’t hear this information enough! Betsy’s presentation was relevant for ladies just thinking about traveling beyond the safety of the resort boundaries, to the seasoned backcountry skier who needs a reminder to not be complacent.

The most memorable part of Besy’s talk was also the most personal: She moved to Chamonix in her early 20’s with a pair of Alpine Trekkers and a copy of the pocket guide ABC’s of Avalanche Safety.Β  Immediately wrapped up in the radical ski opportunities Chamonix affords, plus a crew of guys to tag along with, she ski toured extensively without any major concern for avalanche safety, and without participating in group decisions.

It’s a classic mistake, and the resason that contemporary avalanche education is so focused on the human element of avalanche danger. In this example, Betsy fell prey to a key human factor — “experts”. Betsy followed the crew of guys (the experts) around because they had been skiing there for a few years and knew the best places to ski.

As an avalanche professional with much more education and experience in her toolkit these days, Betsy looks back on that time of her life with relief: relief that nothing bad happened.

I addition to this excellent story, we saw a video of an avalanche in central Oregon, which very quickly dispelled any notion that avalanches aren’t a concern in our area.

Afer the hour-long slideshow, the ladies knew how to identify avalanche terrain, what causes avalanches, how to avoid them, and what gear to take into the backcountry.

From the left: Elena Pressprich of SheJumps, KBYG presenter Betsy Norsen, and yours truly (Lindsey Clark) of SheJumps. Photo by Golden Trail Photography
Thanks so much to Betsy for sharing your knowledge of avalanches with us, and for being such an excellent role model in our community!

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