Backcountry Ascender Program to be Launched at Hay Days
Backcountry Ascender is a free and simple backcountry & avalanche educator. The application uses good-natured competition to help riders learn and improve their backcountry knowledge, skills, practical experience, and confidence.
The engaging and competitive application is composed of an industry and peer reviewed curriculum of self-directed lessons and in-person courses. Riders can earn points for completing lessons and courses to increase their rank as well as that of their club, state association, dealer, and snowmobile brand.
Industry sponsors are encouraged to provide prizes and coupon codes that are unlocked by riders who earn higher badge ranks. Currently avalanche knowledge dissemination is not effectively reaching enough riders and the many new mountain riders. There are knowledge gaps in avalanche education and backcountry skills. The social media is driving more riders to visit unfamiliar terrain.
Avalanche Training is important for many reasons. Many riders do not recognize avalanche terrain and are not checking forecasts or altering ride decisions based on the information they find. Many individuals have the proper gear but have not learned how to use it and are not practicing with it. The lack of training and proficiency in rescue is another leading issue of importance.
The objective is to make snowmobilers the most prepared and knowledgeable back country user group in the mountains. The Backcountry Ascender Program is not an online course but it is self-directed e-learning combined with traditional hands on learning. The learning program is based on a proven educational platform that was designed for professional development. The key to the program is that:
- It establishes peer accountability.
- It is easy to implement.
- It is localized, yet international in scope.
The Backcountry Ascender Program is not disruptive but complementary. The intent of the Backcountry Ascender Program is not to replace traditional avalanche awareness safety courses, but to have existing courses fit into the level and badging structure encouraged in the program. The intent is to drive both knowledge and annually renewing the knowledge.
The snowmobile manufacturers of ISMA and the Backcountry Ascender team and avalanche trainers involved in developing the program have found that snowmobilers are thirsty for knowledge. We have also found that most snowmobilers pride themselves in being knowledgeable on their machines and their riding skills.
We are looking forward to expanding education of snowmobilers across the world and working with all interested parties in continually improving, sustaining, and expanding the plan.
The Backcountry Ascender Program will be introduced at Hay Days 2016, on Saturday, September 10th, at 9:30 AM, at the BRP/Ski-Doo Booth. All media and interested snowmobilers are invited to attend the introduction of the program to the community.
The Backcountry Ascender effort is sponsored by the members of ISMA – Arctic Cat, BRP, Polaris, and Yamaha. Manufacturer representatives will be at the event, supporting the effort and answering questions. The presentation will be made by Christopher Mayer, the founder of Backcountry Ascender, with introductions by Ed Klim, president of ISMA. For further information, call ISMA at 517-339-7788 or email Ed Klim at EKlim@aol.com.
Below are the badges that can be earned and displayed by snowmobilers: