Arapahoe Basin has added a new certified avalanche dog to the Ski Patrol staff. Rio is a Golden Retriever who passed the Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment search and rescue test. The test was in the North Rim section of Vail. A real avalanche scenario was simulated with buried participants, an incident commander, and bystanders. Rio passed the test and is now certified to help with avalanche rescue situations.
Rio’s handler is Arapahoe basin Patroller Matt Norfleet. She is owned by Rob and Debbie Ware, who are employees of the mountain and have raised and trained several certified avalanche dogs. A-Basin now has five certified avalanche dogs. A sixth, Digger, is retiring this year.
“The dogs are really fantastic PR for us,” says Adrienne Saia Isacc, A-Basin’s marketing and communications manager. “Everyone loves them and they’re always out. Having the dogs around is also a really great way to get the kids to learn about mountain safety.”
The dogs can also go to other areas of Summit County, when help is needed. “When there is an avalanche in the county, these dogs are excellent resources. It boosts our manpower and the ability to help out in a rescue situation,” says Isaac.