Elk Range Mountain Safety

An alliance of Roaring Fork Valley mountain safety experts and government agencies will hold five 90-minute educational seminars in four Front Range cities this summer, as well as one in Aspen. 

Local backcountry guide services affiliated with the effort will also offer eight field planning and skills clinics in outdoor settings around the Roaring Fork Valley between mid July and September.

Mountain Rescue Aspen, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, the White River National Forest, Aspen Alpine Guides and Aspen Expeditions Worldwide created the Elk Range Mountain Safety Coalition in response to an unprecedented number of deaths and rescues in the high-alpine terrain around Aspen in the summer of 2017, with the goal of expanding the knowledge and skills that visitors bring with them into the local mountains.

“In today’s world, too often there is an expectation that you have to summit, because you took the time off of work, got on the plane, rented the car, lugged the equipment, camped and need the picture for Instagram,” Mountain Rescue Aspen President Justin Hood said in a press release. “Through the knowledge provided by the Elk Range Mountain Safety Initiative, we want to coax people into being free from expectation and instead embrace better, safer and in-the-moment decision making.”

Through classroom seminars, as well as the outdoor field planning and skills courses lead by Aspen Alpine Guides’ managing partner Stephen Szoradi and owner/lead guide of Aspen Expeditions Worldwide Amos Whiting helped develop the curriculum for the classroom seminars and will lead the outdoor skill training sessions. 

“For beginning climbers, we want to offer the tools to start safely — what gear to bring, how to map out a route, what are the components of a rescue, etc.” Szoradi said in the release. “And for fellow experts, through the components of the core curriculum, we hope to offer an easy way to broaden the conversation so that they can engage their friends, family and followers to ensure a safer summer.” 

Whiting acknowledged that “because Aspen offers one of the most amazing natural playgrounds in the world, we attract a range of summer visitors with varying levels of outdoor knowledge. With the population swell in Colorado in recent years we are also seeing an increased number of residents that are enthusiastic about the state’s outdoor offerings but have minimal knowledge when it comes to planning and executing a safe trip.”

The 90-minute classroom session will be free to attendees while the outdoor sessions are offered at a subsidized rate of $50 per person. 

The seminar schedule is as follows: 

  • Wednesday, June 27 from 6-7:30 p.m. in Boulder at Upslope Brewing, 1898 S. Flatiron Court.
  • Thursday, June 28 from 7-8:30 p.m. in Golden at Colorado Mountain Club’s American Mountaineering Center, hosted by the Colorado Mountain Club, 710 10th St.
  • Wednesday, July 18 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. in Colorado Springs at Mountain Chalet, hosted by Hike for Life, 226 N. Tejon St. 
  • Wednesday, July 25 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. in Denver at the REI Flagship Store, 1416 Platte St. 
  • Thursday, July 26 from 7-8:30 p.m. in Boulder at Neptune Mountaineering, 633 S. Broadway St. 
  • Thursday, Sept. 6 from 6-7:30 p.m. in Aspen at Mountain Rescue Aspen headquarters, 37925 Highway 82.

For the outdoor clinics, Aspen Alpine Guides will host sessions on July 21, Aug. 25, Sept. 8 and Sept. 22. For more information, contact Szoradi at 925-6618. Aspen Expeditions will host outdoor clinics on July 15, Aug. 5, Sept. 2 and Sept. 16.

For additional details about how to sign up for field planning and skills clinics, find ElkRangeMtnSafety on Facebook.