Winter Film Fun, then Winter 101

PosterWebAre you ready for winter? Well, ready or not, the “bleak season” just fell into Idaho out of the north, pushed by a familiar presence — the Arctic Express — which often ushers in a big freeze by blasting down the Purcell Trench and whistling through the peaks on either side. To help you make the transition — and keep the season not so bleak — Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness and Idaho Conservation League are teaming up on December 10 and 11 for a backcountry winter filmfest and some basic skills workshops that will make your winter more fun as well as safer. The filmfest is also a chance to snag prizes big and small from great supporters like Schwetizer Mountain Resort (Win an unlimited Schweitzer season pass!), Outdoor Experience, The Davenport Hotel, Mountain Gear, ROW Adventures, CLIF Bar, Turner Mountain Ski Area and Patagonia.

The films, to be shown at the Panida on December 10, are underwritten by All Seasons Garden and Floral in Kootenai, and provided by the Winter Wildlands Alliance ( Several filmakers highlight the fun and adventure of experiencing winter in the back country. Tickets for the films are available for $8 at Eichardt’s, Outdoor Experience, Monarch Mountain Coffee, Sandpoint Sports and at the door. Doors open at 6, shows begin at 7. Drawings for prizes will be held throughout the evening. Eichardt’s will be on hand with no-host  beer and wine and the Panida will be selling their traditional snacks.

The free workshops, to be held at the Sandpoint Community Hall, are sponsored by ICL and FSPW, and provided by Kevin Davis, USFS avalanche expert; and Dennison Webb and Erik Yost of Selkirik Outdoor Leadership & Education (SOLE). The two workshops are designed as beginner (or refresher) courses in backcountry winter travel. The workshops run from 9 a.m. to noon, with hot beverages and snacks provided.

Davis is director of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest Avalanche Center. His presentation will focus on introductory avalanche dynamics, terrain, weather, and snowpack, route selection and decision making in the winter backcountry, and human factors such as group dynamics and avalanche safety equipment.  All this will be discussed under the context of  weather, terrain, and snowpack dynamics that exist in the mountains of northwestern Montana and North Idaho, and specifically on some aspects in the Scotchman Peaks.

Webb and Yost combined have over 30 years of teaching experience in outdoor settings, and both are experienced winter campers and backcountry skiers. Their workshop will concentrate primarily on how to keep warm and dry in  backcountry settings, specifically covering:

  • Heat loss (e.g., conduction, convection, radiation, respiration, evaporation)
  • Heat retention (e.g., cold weather clothing and layering systems)
  • Cold weather related injuries/illnesses, including signs and symptoms of hypothermia.

So, layer up and mark the dates — December 10 and 11 — and plan for a weekend of winter fun, education and opportunity for some great prizes.

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Categories: Blog
About The Author:

Sandy Compton has been program coordinator for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness since 2009. He is also a storyteller and author of both fiction and non-fiction books, and the publisher at

In addition to his other duties, he runs the FSPW All Star Trail Team (, which works on Forest Service trails in the Scotchman Peaks. He is a trail surveyor as well, and a C-Certified Crosscut Bucker/Feller and USFS National Saw Policy OHLEC instructor.

Sandy grew up on a small farm/woodlot at the south end of the proposed wilderness and lives there still. He is also board member of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and a planning team member for the Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute.

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