Learn a little before you leap at the Colorado Mountain Club

Column by John Akal
Posted 11/9/21

OK, we put a pretty good dent in it. I’m talking about raking up the yard last weekend so we could set it all out for the Fall Yard Waste Pick Up. By “we” I mean my wife Lisa and her friend …

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Learn a little before you leap at the Colorado Mountain Club

Posted

OK, we put a pretty good dent in it. I’m talking about raking up the yard last weekend so we could set it all out for the Fall Yard Waste Pick Up.

By “we” I mean my wife Lisa and her friend Elaine, who came over to help. I was able to dig in for a couple of hours but they did about 95% of the work. I’m putting in this shout-out to them because I feel kind of guilty about having gigs with early set-up times on both Saturday and Sunday, so I wasn’t very much help. But they rocked it! Our dogs, Max and Ivan did their part too. They ran out into the back yard and managed to shred two of those paper bags that my wife had just filled with leaves in about 10 seconds flat. Apparently they had a whole different perspective on what the goal of the operation was all about.

So, I’m going to switch gears a little bit this week and take a look at something that any of you who like getting out into the back country should be aware of. Where to learn what you need to know so you don’t end up in the back of an ambulance, or worse. Our mountains are beautiful but they can also be very dangerous if you get into something without being properly prepared for it.

Some of us grew up here and had a lot of opportunities to learn back country skills from the time we were little kids. Whether it was some kind of Scouting program, Outwards Bound or even an outdoor lab program that Jefferson County Schools offered, there were lots of places, clubs and organizations that you could get involved with to learn the skills to safely have fun out there.

But, once you get to be an adult a couple of things happen. First, you are kind of on your own to find places to learn about these things, you don’t have a classroom filled with kids and teachers to guide you anymore. And second, hey, you’re an adult. You can figure these things out on your own, right? Yeah, that’s the kind of thinking that keeps our alpine rescue teams busy all the time. You need to learn some skills.

Whether you want to get involved in hiking, climbing, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, rafting, camping, hunting, fishing or just taking some great photographs of nature and wildlife, as soon as you get off the roads and out of the parking lots, you are entering into the danger zone and the deeper you go, the more at risk you become. Sure, some things are a more obvious hazard than others, but just simply knowing how to store food can keep you from finding out the hard way that bears don’t act like Yogi when they stumble on your campsite. And with winter coming, you need to know the difference between an Avalanche hockey team and one about to break with you in the middle of it…And how to watch out for it.

That’s where people living here in Golden and the surrounding area have a huge advantage. We have a terrific organization called the Colorado Mountain Club that actually has several schools within it’s organization designed to teach adults pretty much everything they need to know about having fun the right way once you get into the back country. They teach everything from basic knowledge to very advanced skills as well as survival and first aid courses. Things like basic hiking, wilderness trekking, navigation, technical climbing, backpacking, wilderness medicine, CPR and even fly fishing.

With the snow coming you might want to check out their Intro to Backcountry Ski/Snowboard, Ski Mountaineering, Avalanche Safety, Telemark Ski School, Winter Camping School, and Backcounty Ski Touring classes. A lot of these are something you might want to register for now, before they get filled up.

To find out about all of these schools, just go to the Colorado Mountain Club website at www.cmc.org. Click on the “Classes and Courses” tab. They are located at 710 10th Street right here in Golden and you can also call them at (303) 279-3080 x1.

So, check it out. Our mountains are a wonder to behold. Just make sure you aren’t left wondering how the hell you got yourself into some kind of terrible predicament out there, OK? Knowledge is key.

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production. He can be reached at jaimaging@aol.com

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