BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – The largest fundraiser for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center will be held this weekend. It’s a state agency that gets a lot of money from the state, but about a quarter of their budget come from donations

Avalanche predicting is underway in Colorado’s high country and there has already been several slides this season. And for this season, it all gets started in Breckenridge Saturday night.

Preparations have been completed inside Breckenridge’s Riverwalk Center. The silent auction is set up, awaiting a sellout crowd nearing 1,200.

“A lot of people who are here … are not backcountry skiers, but they appreciate the Avalanche Center’s weather forecast so that they know the Avalanche Center forecasts for the mountain roadways,” Aaron Carlson with “Friends of the CAIC” said.

Carlson and a friend started the Friends of the CAIC six years ago with a “Benefit Bash.”

“The Benefit Bash is our largest fundraiser of the year for us. Last year we brought in just over $80,000,” Carlson said. “This year we’re shooting for $100,000.”

This year Carlson is now full time with the Friends of the CAIC.

“Really the forecasters need to be focused on forecasting, they’re not fundraisers,” he said. “I come from a fundraising background, and so the CAIC is something I’m passionate about.”

“About 25 percent of our funding comes from donations, local governments, things outside of what we get directly from the Department of Natural Resources and CDOT,” CAIC director Dr. Ethan Greene said.

The CAIC gets about 2,000 reported slides a year. To help with the funding of much of their work, the Friends of the CAIC raised about $200,000 last year, which helped keep the office open all winter. This year the hope is to raise $500,000 for the Avalanche Center.

“There’s other ways of fundraising than doing events, so we want to focus on getting corporate partners involved,” Carlson said.

It’s money that would help the CAIC’s mission, and in turn, likely save lives.

“You have to be thinking about avalanches right away because there’s a lot more snow in the mountains than we’ve seen in November in past years,” Carlson said.

Greene said there already has been a few slides and burials so far this season, but luckily no deaths.

Backcountry skiing is becoming the fastest growing segment of the ski industry. People are really urged to get educated about avalanches, learn about current conditions, and use the right equipment.

LINK: Colorado Avalanche Information Center | Friends of the CAIC


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