STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLORADO-February 3, 2021-When minutes matter, knowing how to properly use your safety equipment could save someone’s life and is the driving force behind Routt County Search & Rescue’s new Beacon Training Park at Howelsen Hill Ski Area.
“With more and more people purchasing equipment and venturing into the backcountry this winter, we felt that it was important to provide a safe and accessible place to practice essential skills,” said Routt County Search & Rescue President Jay Bowman. “You can have all of the right equipment, but without practice, it will not help you in an emergency situation.”
In an effort to educate recreationalist and provide a safe and accessible venue for practicing backcountry avalanche skills, Routt County Search & Rescue has invested in a BCA Beacon Training Park System and has partnered with the City of Steamboat Springs to create the Beacon Training Park at the base of Howelsen Hill Ski Area.
The new Beacon Park is located near the base of the Barrows chairlift. While snow depths are currently a little shallow, the sloped and wooded terrain provides a realistic scenario of what a true avalanche debris field may look like.
Six waterproof transmit boxes are buried throughout the area and can be easily activated via a control panel attached at the custom Beacon Basin sign. For those who are new to beacon searches, the park signage includes general avalanche information, details on search techniques and links to online training resources.
While Routt County Search & Rescue and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Winter Backcountry Education program plan on utilizing the Beacon Training Park regularly for training purposes, the agencies urge other groups and individuals take advantage of this unique and accessible resource to practice these potentially life savings skills.
“Whether a seasoned veteran or backcountry novice, we unfortunately know first-hand what can happen when people venture into the woods and are not properly prepared,” continued Bowman. “Avalanches continue to be one of the most prominent dangers to backcountry travelers and we want folks to be armed to act should it be necessary.”
Colorado’s mountain areas currently are experiencing moderate to high avalanche conditions with Steamboat & the Flat Tops in the considerable zone across all elevations. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is forecasting increasing avalanche danger today with heavy snow and wind. An Avalanche Warning is in effect for the Aspen and Gunnison zones through Friday. So far this season, a total of 10 skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers have been caught in avalanches, with eight people buried and four killed.
Jay Bowman, Routt County Search & Rescue, Board President, 970.846.6844 or email
Michael Lane, City of Steamboat Springs, Communications Manager, 970.871.8220 or email
Emily Hines, City of Steamboat Springs, Marketing & Events Coordinator, 970.871.7031 or email