AZ – The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team conductsoperations to assist skiers and snow boarders in the back country.
Each ski season when there is ample snow fall, skiers and snow boarders enjoyback country runs out of the permit area of the Arizona Snowbowl. People leaving the ski area off the south or
front face of the San Francisco Peaks often intend to ski back to the Snowbowl,but find the terrain pulls them down hill and away from the Snowbowl. Many
skiers and boarders get lost, stuck or injured and call for help.
Forseveral years, the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit has conducted what is known
as a Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR) operations to mitigate the chancesof people becoming lost or turned around. One such operation is to put a track from a snow cat on Forest Road 522,also known as the Freidlein Prairie
Road. Should a person become lost, thetrack gives them a recognizable path back to Forest Service Road 516 (the
Snowbowl Road) and has helped to reduce the number of search calls.
Lastweek, the Search and Rescue Unit conducted another preventative operation by
cutting snowshoe tracks along the Kachina Trail. The track was laid fromSnowbowl to an area known as the “First Gully” in hopes of catching lost skiers
earlier and higher up the mountain and giving them a path back to Snowbowl.
Outof bounds travel has some associated hazards. The backcountry is not patrolled,
and no avalanche mitigation is conducted in the backcountry. It is important that backcountry users befamiliar with the conditions. Information about the snowpack is available from
the Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center. The Kachina Peaks Avalanche Center alsooffers avalanche safety education.
12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman",serif’>A Kachina Peaks Winter Backcountry Permit is required for backcountry travel inthe Kachina Peaks Wilderness when accessing the Wilderness from Arizona
Snowbowl and along the Snowbowl Road at Viet Spring and Freidlein Prairie Road.The permit can be obtained for free from the U.S. Forest Service. More
information about the permit can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/coconino/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=fseprd479744.
Inaddition to knowledge about the conditions, backcountry users should carry the
10 Essentials plus a charged cell phone and spare battery, avalanchetransceiver, backcountry shovel, and avalanche probe.
10 Essentials are:
Material (tarp, large leaf bag, space blanket)
starting kit/backcountry stove
Signalingequipment (whistle/signal mirror)
equipment (map, compass, GPS)
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