Amateur and professional backcountry enthusiasts descended on the Beacon Bowl at Arapahoe Basin on Saturday, competing in timed trials to locate a buried beacon, receiving instruction on how to dig a snow pit and read layers in the snow, and watching an avalanche rescue dog remonstration. The event raised $6,600 for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
In the timed competition, 21 recreational participants, including an eight-year old girl, and 20 pros, raced to see how fast they could find buried beacons. The competition was broken down into preliminaries and finals, with the top five in the first event moving on to the finals in each division.
In the preliminaries, the Arapahoe Basin Ski Patrol buried four beacons that could send a signal to a remote device when a probe hit it, much like the Beacon Bowl that is at the bottom of Lenawee Lift. For each participant, a different strike target was chosen, and the competitors would race in to the simulated avalanche area from above on skis and find the buried beacon. Andy Wenberg, of Backcountry Access, had the fastest time in the preliminary round for pros, finding a target in 57 seconds.
In the finals, the professionals had to locate two beacons that were buried in backpacks in separate places and dig them out. The recreational division finalists only had to located one buried beacon and dig it out.
Wenberg again came out on top in the pro division, with a time of 3:23. Arapahoe Basin Ski Patrol Director Patrick O'Sullivan came in second with a time of 3:44.
In the recreational division, "Tele" Todd Hanson came in first with a time of 1:50, followed by John Pound in second with a time of 2:06.
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Each participant in the competition got a free slice of pizza and a beer at the après event, which also featured a live auction and silent auction. Some of the live auction prizes included a new pair of skis and a shot ski. The party was a lively event that drew many people.