OUTDOORS & RECREATION

Avalanche Dogs From Around The Country Train In Little Cottonwood Canyon

Jan 16, 2019, 9:41 PM | Updated: 10:46 pm

ALTA, Utah – Avalanche dogs and handlers from around the world are in Utah for a week of training.

Wasatch Backcountry Rescue has hosted classes at Alta Ski Area and Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon for more than 40 years. Instructors work with the handlers and their dogs to improve their rescue skills. In one drill, instructors buried the handlers in snow then released the dogs to dig them out.

“The dogs know what to do. It’s us that need to learn what we’re doing, how to read them, how to do things the right way,” said Michael Currid, who brought a 2-year-old Labrador named Reagan.

Jake Martenson brought a 1-year-old German Shepherd named Lando to the school. Lando dug Martenson out of the snow within seconds.

“I love it, love it. It’s not only that he wants to find me, but he’s getting the game. They don’t know the gravity of the situation on a real avalanche scene. It’s just a game,” Martenson said.

Avalanche rescue teams would rather people avoid risky areas during high avalanche danger, but when people do find themselves buried, they are glad they and their dogs have these rescue skills.

“These guys are, other than the party that you’re skiing with, this is really the next best bet if you’re going to come in to somebody that doesn’t have an avalanche transceiver,” Currid said.

The Utah Avalanche Center issues avalanche forecasts every morning. You can find those at UtahAvalancheCenter.org.

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Avalanche Dogs From Around The Country Train In Little Cottonwood Canyon