Elyse Saugstad has the unenviable position of first-hand experience when it comes to avalanches. In 2012 she was caught in one that took the lives of three close friends. If anything positive can be said to come from such a devastating event, it would be a renewed appreciation for snow safety and upskilling in the mountains. For Elyse this came in the form of co-founding SAFE AS Avalanche Clinics the following year. SAFE AS (Skiers Advocating and Fostering Education of Avalanche Safety) is an introductory avalanche course that makes snow safety for women its priority – but now invites all-comers to participate.
We at Le Bent saw how passionate Elyse and her husband Cody Townsend were about snow safety during their visit down under earlier in the year, where we bore witness to some of the naivety of Australian skiers and ski culture in the side and backcountry around Thredbo. You can read about the human triggered slide we saw near Thredbo here.
While the seed was planted to do more Avalanche Awareness here in Aus in years to come with both Elyse and Cody, for now Le Bent is super proud to support the 2019/20 SAFE AS Clinics as they welcome the North American ski season.
Elyse Saugstad taking a beacon clinic at a SAFE AS course last season. Photo: Aaron Blatt (@blattphoto)
The one-day introductory courses are led by a top-tier of female professionals (including Elyse) to inspire, educate and help promote backcountry safety from the highest levels of winter sports to first time backcountry enthusiasts.
Le probe. Photo: Aaron Blatt (@blattphoto)
Now in its 8th year, SAFE AS will be hosting educational events at Copper Mountain Resort, CO on December 7th and 8th, 2019, Squaw Valley Resort, CA on December 14th and 15th, and Solitude Mountain Resort, UT on January 11th and 12th.
There are both Co-Ed and women’s specific events planned with special guest instructors like Leanne Pelosi, Reine Barkered and our very own Cody Townsend who’s reprising his role as a guest instructor at the Copper Mountain Clinics.
Cody Townsend getting hands on with a group last season. Photo: Aaron Blatt (@blattphoto)
Some other female powerhouses behind the clinic include Jackie Paaso, Michelle Parker, Ingrid Backstrom, Lel Tone and Sherry McConkey, who are bookending the substantive AIARE based avalanche lessons with morning yoga, and an après party and fundraiser.
Since its inception in 2012, the SAFE AS tour has travelled to four different states, reached 1000 participants ranging in age from 14-70, and raised $40,000 for local non-profits including the High Fives Foundation, the Sierra Avalanche Center, the Northwest Avalanche Center, the Utah Avalanche Center and AIARE’s Project Zero.
With northern hemisphere resorts opening as we speak, now’s the perfect time to sit an introductory avy course or refresh and hone existing skills and knowledge. Photo: Aaron Blatt (@blattphoto)
For more information on scholarships, discounts, dates and registration, go to www.safeasclinics.com. For direct contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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