The exposure death of a Lakeland High School student two years ago on Rathdrum Mountain prompted Spokane Mountaineer Chic Burge to do his part to prevent future deaths.
The 16-year-old boy died after becoming separated from friends while snowboarding in the backcountry.
Burge, a Post Falls resident and assistant instructor with the Mountaineers, started what’s now the third annual Backcountry Safety Class.
“There was nobody over here that does it,” he explained.
The free course is being offered in January this year for both beginners and experienced outdoorsmen.
Last year, more than 200 people showed up for the course, which covers essential equipment, first aid, avalanche awareness and other issues necessary for safe backcountry travel.
The class is designed for hunters, fishermen, snowmobilers, skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and others risking hypothermia and other dangers for winter recreation.
All the instructors are volunteers from North Idaho, such as Bob Kasun, who provides avalanche forecasts for the Panhandle, Dan Soumas of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department and medical professionals with Kootenai Medical Center.
The classes are scheduled for Jan. 14 and 21 in North Idaho College’s Boswell Auditorium. Both classes will run from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The first class is geared for novices and the second for people who wish to advance their winter outdoors skills.