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The Peter Inglis Avalanche Education Fund will host the eighth season of Backcountry Chats in Telluride in 2024-2025. The Backcountry Chats are free public events aimed at bringing together the backcountry community once a month for an evening of educational programming.  Join us to increase your avalanche awareness and backcountry education!

Thank you to our sponsors: Telluride Mountain Guides, San Juan Outdoor Adventures, Mountain Trip and Telluride Helitrax.

Check back in the fall for more information on the ’24-’25 backcountry chat schedule.


Past Recorded Events

Thursday, March 14th, 2024 at 5:30pm: The Skidola

The Skidola is Telluride’s annual uphill challenge! The race begins at the bottom of the Oak Street Gondola and ascends 1800 vertical feet up the slopes of the ski resort to the top of Chair 7. The Pi Fund partners with the Telluride Foundation to put on this event, and all event proceeds are given to the PI Fund to further its mission of increasing avalanche education and backcountry awareness. With prizes for “Fastest Overall” but also “Best Costume” and “The Middle Place”, this event is for everyone! SIGN UP TODAY: www.runreg.com/skidola

We are looking for Pie Donations for our “Pies for PI” Silent Auction! See the flyer below for more information. Thanks!

Saturday, March 16th, 2024: Tellurando

Hosted and organized by Jon Miller of Jagged Edge Mountain Gear, the Tellurando is Telluride’s annual ski-mo race, challenging racers from all over the West to test their mettle on a challenging course that traverses all across the ski resort. This race is LEGENDARY amongst the ski-mo community.
Sign-up and get more details here: https://www.cosmicski.com/event

Wednesday, March 6th, 6pm: “Telluride BC Ski History: The 1970’s”

  • The first in a series of BC Chats focused on Telluride’s backcountry history
  • Stories and pictures from the good ol’ days! 
  • Featuring several “local legends” who pioneered backcountry skiing in the ‘70s 

Thursday, December 14th, 2023 6pm: “Welcome to Winter”

  • Introducing the updated Telluride Radio Program channels
  • Radios 101: how to use and program
  • Presentation on the State of the Snowpack and Winter Outlook

Friday, December 8th, 2023 at 5:30pm: Local Stoke Movie Night

A celebration of our local ski and snowboard talent! Join us for a free evening of short ski films that feature local Telluride athletes and filmmakers and get STOKED for the winter season to come. We’ll also be raffling off some sweet prizes to raise a little money for the PI Fund! 

Thursday, December 7th, 2023 at 6pm: “Know Before You Go”

Know Before You Go (KBYG) is a free avalanche awareness program. Not much science, no warnings to stay out of the mountains, and no formulas to memorize. In about an hour, you will see the destructive power of avalanches, understand when and why they happen, and how you can have fun in the mountains and avoid avalanches.

Thursday, January 11th, 2024 6pm: “Communication in the Backcountry”

  • Avalanche Trivia!
  • Radio Etiquette: how to communicate via radio in the backcountry
  • Communication Styles: why “how we communicate” matters
  • Presentation from Jeff Davis, our local forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Wednesday, February 7th, 2024 6pm: “Close Calls Forum”

  • Stories of close calls from our local backcountry community
  • Lessons-learned from local avalanche incidents

Monday, March 15, 2023 6:20pm: “Know Before You Go”

A great backcountry awareness program to kick off your season is Know Before You Go (KBYG) from Friends of the CAIC. Not much science, no warnings to stay out of the mountains, no formulas to memorize. In about an hour, you will see the destructive power of avalanches, understand when and why they happen, and how you can have fun in the mountains and avoid avalanches. Watch for the first time or refresh your memory via this link: https://support.friendsofcaic.org/pages/know-before-you-go-online.

Monday, March 1st, 2023 6:15pm:  “Group Communication Tactics for Effective Decision-Making with Jayson Simons-Jones”

Effective Decision Making is imperative in the high consequence world of professional avalanche work and winter recreational backcountry users. Communication tactics are at the cornerstone of how the decision-making process is carried out leading to either effective decisions with good outcomes, or ineffective decisions with unintended outcomes. Much in the world of avalanche education course curriculum has been focused on giving tools or checklists to implement communication as a skill to be employed in backcountry decision making tactics. I am hoping to explore a bit of the deeper psychology behind the communication process in how it plays out in groups, and specifically to initiate a conversation on how both specific communication behaviors and tactics can elicit effective team decision making, and what to be aware of in the process to determine if your group or professional team is working towards good or bad decision making communication strategies.
Jayson is an IFMGA Mountain Guide based in Colorado, where he has been a backcountry ski guide, avalanche forecaster, avalanche course educator, ski patroller, snowcat ski guide, and avalanche consultant throughout the scope of his career over the past 20+ years. These days he is balancing the new frontiers of working as a mountain guide amidst a global pandemic and a sketchy Colorado snowpack year with graduate studies in group communication and development strategies, hoping to add value to the conversation around increased decision making tactics and theories in a high risk, high consequence environment.



Monday, February 1, 2023 6:15pm: “Building Expertise with Sarah Carpenter & The American Avalanche Institute”

This presentation is an exploration of building expertise – how can we improve our skills and knowledge in an environment where we don’t often get good feedback? Backcountry skiing is complex and demands knowledge and experience with so many skills. The goal of this presentation is to offer some tools and techniques to foster life long learning.

Sarah Carpenter is a co-owner of the American Avalanche Institute. She teaches avalanche courses to both recreationists and professionals and loves sharing her excitement about the winter environment with others. Sarah also works as a ski guide in the Tetons. She lives in Victor, ID with her husband, Don, in a house they built together (with a lot of help).


Monday, January 4th, 2023 6:00om: “Powder Fever and Longevity in the Backcountry with Bill, Fischer & Coop”

We all know the feeling, standing on the top of untouched powder and already dreaming of the turns to come. That’s why we do it, we love to ski. It’s a way of life and it has lead all of us to this town in the middle of the San Juans. But how do we grapple with our inner desire to get the fresh tracks? How do we temper our decision making and focus on our process so that we can sustain skiing as a way of life for many years to come? In this chat, we highlight the values of a process-oriented approach to skiing in avalanche terrain.

Fischer Hazen was born and raised here in the San Juans. Skiing was his first passion in these mountains and is what keeps him here dreaming of winter. He spends his year working for Mountain Trip guiding big snowy mountains around the world, teaching avalanche education courses and backcountry skiing guiding!

Jonathan Cooper (“Coop”) has been searching out adventure and powder skiing all around the mountain west for just over a decade. He landed here in SW Colorado and has been on a journey to understand his own human foibles through the complex nature of the San Juan snowpack.


Monday, December 7, 2020 6:00pm: “Risk Assessment & Treatment with Ryan Howe”

Assessing and dealing with risk in avalanche terrain can be a confusing and mentally exhausting process. It is tempting and potentially catastrophic to lean on our intuition and the decisions of others, rather than doing the hard work of disciplined evidence gathering and patience. Fortunately, we have access to super useful conceptual framework tools and cognitive triggers. In this PI Fund backcountry chat, we’ll discuss a very practical-down and durty to quick and purty- “Dirtbag Risk Assessment and Treatment”.
Ryan Howe has worked as a full time, blue collar avalanche professional since 1998. His career path has followed a wobbly orbit as a guide, educator, ski patroller, operations manager and author.


Welcome Back Winter + Getting Your Head in the Game

If you are headed into the backcountry this winter, join us for a little refresher on all the things you’ll want to think about this season. Joining us will be Matt Steen (Snow Safety Director at Telluride Helitrax), Jon Tuckman (Snow Safety Director at Telluride Ski Resort), and Mike Barney from the CAIC. We’ll be covering:

  • Snowpack: current hazard, trends, and observations
  • CAIC website, observations, and weather
  • Ski area boundaries and what you need to know
  • Backcountry gate etiquette
  • Telluride Backcountry Radio Program


One Comment

  • Tim Bounds says:

    Been a member for 1+ year now and never bothered to ask: are the backcountry chats recorded and posted to the website (or some other website?) And also let me know if I need to re-up my dues with the change in membership year.


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Telluride Mountain Club advocates for safe, accessible, enjoyable and respectful opportunities for human-powered recreational activities in the Telluride region, through education, awareness and collaboration.

Telluride Mountain Club is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.