Practice makes perfect, and knowing how to properly evacuate a patient in the backcountry can save their life. Jon Klaczkiewicz photo.
Through spending over two decades in the field producing ski and snowboard films, TGR knows the importance of making sure our safety skills are the best they possibly can be. Every season, our athletes and production crews operate in some of the harshest environments imaginable, from remote mountain ranges like those in Alaska or Albania, or in our backyard right here in the Tetons. Before heading out into the field, every year we hone our safety knowledge during our annual International Pro Riders Workshop (IPRW), a multi-day course designed to improve our backcountry skills.
For the 2018-2019 season, we held our IPRW session at Grand Targhee Mountain Resort, which offered us plenty of opportunity to stay on top of our game when it comes to snow safety, rescue, and mountain travel. For three days, our production crews worked together with Zahan Billimoria’s Samsara Mountain Experience and a handful of Exum Guides to practice real-world rescue scenarios and hone specific skills like crevasse rescue, avalanche rescue, and backcountry evacuation. Athletes in attendance include Johnny and Angel Collinson, Todd Ligare, Amie Engerbretson, Griffin Post, Parkin Costain, Kai Jones, and Nick Russell.
Cinematographer Nick Koldenhoven practicing avalanche rescue. Max Ritter photo.
While IPRW has been going on for years, the course is ever-evolving. Under the guidance of safety experts, the curriculum focuses on new technology and methods that have proven to shorten response times and make filming in the backcountry safer. For example, on day one our crews practiced updated crevasse rescue techniques using new equipment from Petzl and were introduced to building rescue sleds out of special lightweight tarps to bring an injured skier or snowboarder to safety.
Exum Guide Dan Corn teaches the crew how to quickly assemble a rescue sled. Max Ritter photo.
Day two provided plenty of time to put these skills to use in a full-on rescue scenario built into a day of filming 90-second edits highlighting powder skiing at Grand Targhee. That evening, we gathered and continued the IPRW tradition of “Defend my Line,” where athletes talk about real-life close calls and analyze their decision-making process. Afterwards, TGR co-founder Steve Jones made a special announcement. Photographer Nic Alegre, fresh off winning Powder's Photo of the Year award, had scored another stunning cover shot: this time with Angel Collinson shredding the steeps of Girdwood, Alaska for the cover of the Ski Journal.
Alegre and Collinson stoked on yet another mind-bending cover shot. Max Ritter photo.
The final day included a full CPR class provided by Jacob Urban and the Jackson Hole Outdoor Leadership Institute. We practiced CPR techniques and learned about how to apply them in an avalanche scenario. Afterwards, we got to celebrate our newfound knowledge with some hard-earned pow laps.
After three days of working hard, TGR Co-founder Steve Jones enjoys some well-deserved Targhee pow laps. Max Ritter photo.
While our athletes and production crews hope to never have to use any of the skills we learn and practice regularly, TGR would like to remind all backcountry travelers to get the proper knowledge, equipment, a partner, and a plan before venturing into the mountains. Thank you to Grand Targhee Mountain Resort, Samsara Mountain Experience, Exum Guides, and JHOLI for sharing your knowledge and we look forward to seeing you in the mountains this season!
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