Locally-made skis, snow terrain parks, backcountry awareness, winter events.
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The goal of Galena Backcountry Patrol
In winter wonderlands like the rugged and remote Northern Rockies, sometimes the only thing that separates having fun from having a near fatality is one wrong move.
Luckily for those who love to play in the snow-covered terrain of Blaine County, the crew at Galena Backcountry Patrol (GBCP) isn’t there just to help save people, but to help folks avoid problems in the first place.
Since the dawn of the DayGlo ski suit era in 1980, GBCP has been operating under one basic theory—make the backcountry safer!
“Anyway we can help, that’s what we’re trying to do,” explained Bruce Smith, who’s been a member of the volunteer-based GBCP for 20 years.
There are three basic ways in which the GBCP helps out. First, the 40 members (all of whom are certified National Ski Patrollers) are on call to assist Blaine County Search and Rescue and the Ketchum Fire District with any winter emergencies like avalanches, lost skiers or off-road accidents. They also regularly pzrovide basic first-aid services for events like the Boulder Mountain Tour and the Northern Rockies Folk Festival.
But their big focus is really on education. “We’d rather train you, than have to dig you out later,” Smith said.
Throughout the winter, GBCP offers avalanche awareness courses and refresher classes. They also provide intensive outdoor emergency care classes and maintain a yurt at Avalanche Peak up on Galena Summit, known as “The Fort,” for training.
“You never know what to expect in the backcountry. A blue bird day can turn pretty quickly in the Northern Rockies,” Smith said. “We try to help people prepare for the unexpected.”
-Photograph Craig Wolfrom