Everyone who spends time outside understands why it’s so special, especially in winter.
Cold air and blue skies are both refreshing and addictive. Challenging ourselves outdoors helps us grow personally and get to know ourselves, our friends, and our families better.
That said, the greater the challenges we take on, the higher the risk we can incur. And, if I’m any indication, it’s often easier to ignore these risks in the thrill of the moment, than to discuss and understand them fully.
Recognize the Risk and Prepare
Logan Randolph, founder of CertHero, thinks we should not only discuss risks, but prepare for them. Logan is a professional mountaineering guide and ski patroller. When he’s not on the mountain, he’s working (with his partner Sam Aarons) on his latest project: CertHero.org.
Logan started CertHero a few months ago to help people sign up for avalanche, medical and outdoors certifications. Before CertHero, there was no central database of courses. Now there is.
Wilderness medicine/avalanche courses are a great way to meet new people and prepare yourself for emergencies. Even if you’re not planning on traveling extensively in the backcountry, they’re often a really fun time as well.
Most medical courses involve some lectures on physiology, although most course time is spent outside practicing medical scenarios (complete with fake injuries).
Avalanche courses typically contain some class time on snow science, but spend much time digging snow pits and evaluating real avalanche danger.
“Tons of people are interested in outdoor certification,” Logan told me, “but they’re not sure how to get started. Our goal is to provide information on courses and make scheduling easier. Hopefully more people will get certified.”
Logan went on to share some of his experiences guiding in Alaska and ski patrolling in Vermont.
“I saw tons of injuries. Sometimes the causes are freak accidents. But more often, they’re preventable; things that could have been prevented by simple training.”
Last winter, I went on a helicopter skiing trip in British Columbia. Prior to skiing, our group did some basic avalanche training. Just that little amount of training convinced me that I would never again go so far into the backcountry without completing an avalanche course. Why? Because I quickly realized that while the rest of my group could save me (in the unlikely event of an avalanche) I probably couldn’t save them. I didn’t like that feeling.
And while none of us want to think about injuries anywhere at any time, even if you’re on a resort having some basic knowledge can help while you wait for ski patrol.
“I don’t want to scare people into getting certified.” Logan tells me “I want people to enjoy it. Getting certified makes you a superhero. With knowledge and practice, you can predict avalanches and find people buried under snow. You can heal injured people and save lives. To me, that’s pretty amazing.”
While I don’t know if everyone needs to get certified, I certainly agree with Logan’s mission. He wants to make the outdoors safer. And to introduce people to the fun of being certified.
Logan also added “We can’t alleviate all risk. That’s part of why we love being outside, hiking and skiing. But when more outdoor people have certifications, the better off we all are.”
CertHero currently lists about 900 courses from 80 providers. The list was compiled by Logan and his partner Sam in cooperation with training providers. If you’re a provider and you’re not on his list, reach out to him.
Also, check out the website: certhero.org, follow @CertHeroOrg on Twitter, and read the latest post on course selection, certhero.org/blog.
Many thanks to Logan Randolph for helping prepare this post.
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