Sunday, 27 January 2013

Kids Outdoor Skills: Avalanche Safety Video for Teens

I went skiing with my 8- and 12-year-old boys at Norquay, and we saw the Banff parks people doing avalanche bombing at the top of the mountain. Answering the boys' questions about why the ski patrol was intentionally setting off avalanches got me thinking that it's time to start teaching my kids about avalanche safety.

When I was growing up, there were few outdoor courses on avalanche safety or anything else. As with many things, kids--and parents--have it easy these days. There are plenty of avalanche safety resources out there for kids, although they can be hard to find. Unfortunately, a lot of parents and kids don't know where to look, or even that they should look. If they think of avalanches at all, they're something cool that happen in movies or to hardcore backcountry skiers and ignorant snowmobilers.

One excellent avalanche safety resource for kids is The Fine Line. Available on DVD and online, it's a movie that tweens and teens going into avalanche terrain should watch. Actually, any youths going anywhere with snow on a hill should watch it: snowshoers, hikers, cross-country skiers, backcountry skiers and boarders, resort skiers that could be tempted to duck under the rope and poach a closed run...It's pretty good for adults, too.
Basically, The Fine Line tricks kids into learning the basics of avalanche safety by disguising "education" as an extreme ski/snowboard movie. It mixes avalanche safety information in with alternative rock (can't hear Wintersleep's "Weighty Ghost" too many times), a plasticine history of the world, massive avalanches, crazy pros skiing and boarding epic lines, and people telling their stories of getting caught and buried by avalanches. It's raw and real, and it doesn't condescend to kids (warning: there are a couple bad words in it). The movie doesn't take the place of an avalanche safety course taught by certified instructors, but it will get kids thinking and taking avalanche risks seriously.
You can order The Fine Line on DVD from the Canadian Avalanche Centre, or watch The Fine Line on Amazon Instant Video. The DVD has the movie and four training films, although I don't know what the Amazon version includes.

If you know about other avalanche safety material geared towards young people, let me know and I'll post it.

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