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Your Big Chance to Support the Utah Avalanche Center 

It’s typically the big fall party for Utah’s backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and sledders to get psyched about the ski season: the Utah Avalanche Center Backcountry Benefit fall fundraiser attracts hundreds to the parking lot of Black Diamond Equipment in Salt Lake City, where beer flows, raffle tickets sell like hotcakes, and a live band keeps the crowd groovin’. But … what’s an avalanche center to do when a pandemic is underway and crowds can’t be a thing?

Fortunately, the Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) board and staff saw this coming months ahead of time, and they came up with the perfect plan to digitize the event. And it’s a good thing, because the UAC relies very heavily on donations to fund its avalanche forecasting and education efforts. The show must go on. It just looks a little different.

The Party Pack that lets you party with your pack. 

The fundraiser event will still happen—and it’ll be a helluva night with speakers, an emcee, and important community updates. Attendees will watch via live-stream, which you’ll access via an emailed link.

And the best part: you can still have a small gathering with friends to watch. The UAC is encouraging people to purchase “Party Packs” of tickets for small groups of friends to watch together. This keeps the stoke alive and lets you get fired up with your favorite crew—while keeping things safe and as socially distanced as you desire. (Backyard + computer or projector screen + beer = success)

The UAC is sending everyone who purchases a “Party Pack” of tickets a package full of swag, access to buy special UAC fundraiser beer from Uinta Brewing, a host gift, and a toolkit with everything you need to still participate in the raffle and auction bidding (which is now digitized—thanks, technology).

Individual and couples’ tix available too. 

If you’d rather fly solo or hunker down with your main squeeze or BFF, you can participate in the event via the same live-stream, and you’ll still get a package with awesome UAC party swag (and access to buy the special UAC beer from Uinta Brewing). Just sign up for an individual or couples’ ticket and you’re set.

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Why supporting the UAC is as crucial as ever—and good for all backcountry users. 

Here’s the thing: the UAC party is always a good time, as it will be this year. But even more, it’s really darn important to help fund avalanche forecasting, education, and awareness. With the pandemic humming along and ski resort plans up in the air, experts are predicting a spike in backcountry skiing, snowboarding, and sledding this winter. An influx of new people in the backcountry means that education is an urgent safety issue for everyone—including the newbies and anyone sharing the slopes with them.

The Utah Avalanche Center has raised the bar in the world of avalanche forecasting with its education programs, easy-to-read forecasts, crowdsourced observations, and smartphone app. Other avy centers around the world look to them for inspiration, a fact we Utahns are rather proud of.

As fewer of us spend time in the resorts this winter and more of us branch out into the backcountry, people throughout Utah will rely heavily on UAC forecasts. Their staff get up in the wee hours of the morning to compile data, examine observations, assess the weather forecast, and let us all know what’s safe and what isn’t. It’s pretty extraordinary.

And in-person fundraiser events make up a sizable share of the UAC’s annual budget to make all this happen.

According to Executive Director Chad Brackelsberg, “In-person event money goes directly toward forecasting, education, and awareness. Revenue from the UAC’s yearly Backcountry Benefit—an event which usually brings in $100k—alone makes up 12% of that budget. In other words, those events are critical for the sustainability of our organization.”

The UAC’s Development Director, Hannah Whitney, says that the UAC team was determined to make sure the fall fundraiser not only still happens, but retains the community feel that everyone loves about the party.

“This is the kickoff of when people start getting stoked for winter. We’re so excited we’ve come up with a way to preserve the feeling of gathering with your own tight-knit community to celebrate the coming ski season, get in the avy preparedness mindset, and stay safe and comfortable in the process,” says Whitney.

One upside: since the party’s digital, people can participate from anywhere, not just in Utah. And even if you can’t digitally attend, the fundraiser auction is live online for anyone anywhere to bid. You can snag some sweet gear and keep our ski community safe while you’re at it.

If you haven’t bought your Party Pack tickets yet, time is running out—the cutoff for group parties is end of day Thursday September 3rd, although you can still sign up for individual and couples tickets after that. Click here, get informed, party down, and get stoked.

Beth LopezBeth Lopez is a seasoned writer and creative director who loves to tell tales of adventure and discovery—and finds writing a powerful way to give a voice to people, causes, and places. Beth runs amok in the Wasatch mountains when untethered from her computer. She believes there’s no such thing as a bad ski day and considers animals her favorite people. Don’t tell her mother about her Instagram mountaineering photos.