The Telluride Mountain Club is heading up a new initiative to bring radios into the Bear Creek backcountry – the deadliest off piste spot in the San Miguel County.
A notable snowboarding accident two years ago, among many other close calls, have prompted this push.
“Hopefully we’re going to help avoid accidents. And if things do happen, we’ll get a faster response. We’ve been really, really lucky in Bear Creek the last 10 years or so because there have been a number of significant accidents where [rescues]have been incredibly convenient,” said Jagged Edge Mountain Gear store manager Jon Miller, to Telluride Daily Planet, who is also a member of the San Miguel County Search and Rescue team.
The radios will give a common place for those out-of-bounds to talk about locations, weather, and call for help if an accident or avalanche occurs.
Jagged Edge is offering a 30% discount towards the purchase of a backcountry radio for Telluride Mountain Club members. However, there are other options.
“You don’t have to have the fancy BCA radios. It’s a family channel radio, so a Motorola talkabout radio that you buy at Wal-Mart for $25 uses the same channels that these radios do,” he said.
Being a highly traveled area for those seeking a backcountry adventure the radios do not put local search and rescue teams at ease. However, the radios offer easy communication with others if you get yourself in trouble.
“If they were to have enough radios back there so everyone skiing in the backcountry could tell each other that, ‘Hey, I’m down below you,’ they might be able to communicate a little better and help each other out. It certainly seems like an interesting thought,” San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters told Telluride Daily Planet.
“It’s an experiment. We’re going to see how it goes,” Miller said. “Ski patrol is going to be unofficially monitoring it. We’re planning on monitoring it down here. We’ll see how it works. We’re just trying to make everything safer.”
Most importantly, if you head into the backcountry, the Bear Creek access channel is 4-4 and the Ophir channel is 4.