As more people head into the backcountry over the next few months, the White River National Forest has opened its new beacon training park outside Minturn to help the public learn how to use avalanche transceivers to find a person buried under the snow.
The park, which was developed in partnership with was developed in partnership with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), is a short climb up a slope at the Mountain Meadow Trailhead on U.S. 24, which is about a quarter mile from the I-70 Minturn exit.
The park has eight buried transmitters that can be turned on and off from a control panel, allowing for multiple search scenarios so users can become familiar with using their avalanche transceivers and probing the snow for buried people.
Our new beacon training park above the Mountain Meadow Trailhead on U.S. 24 outside Minturn gives the public an easily accessible opportunity to practice using avalanche transceivers, a critical piece of safety equipment for winter backcountry recreation. #RecreateResponsibly pic.twitter.com/HJ9NqYF5uz— White River National Forest (@WhiteRiverNews) December 17, 2020
The self-operating system is open all day to the public.
Parks like this have traditionally been located at ski areas, said Eagle-Holy Cross District Ranger Leanne Veldhuis. This new, public location will hopefully encourage more people to "become proficient using avalanche transceivers, which can help save lives," she said.
Veldhuis said a record number of people are exploring the backcountry and the need for safety education is higher than ever.
“Avalanche transceivers are key to finding avalanche victims as soon as possible, but they are only effective if people know how to use them," Veldhuis said.
The best way to avoid an avalanche is to understand the forecast and conditions. Before going into the backcountry, check the Colorado Avalanche Information Center's website.