Outdoors: Steel Yourselves Winter Warriors

Why not make this the winter you explore the snowy backcountry on your own terms? It's a whole different mountain range out there when it's covered in multiple feet of the white stuff. Backcountry skiing, snowshoeing and camping don't come without risks, though. Besides needing the right warm gear, you should also be aware of avalanche dangers and prepared to deal with the worst. On Tuesday night (Dec. 7) at 7 p.m. you can join King County Search and Rescue at the cozy confines of the Issaquah REI store to learn some simple things you can do to increase the odds of a warm and safe backcountry snow sports adventure. The free Winter Mountain Safety presentation will include real life stories of winter rescue missions and lessons about how to avoid mistakes that others have made.

If learning a few tips and techniques isn't quite enough to sate your urge for winter mountain safety knowledge, you can take it up a notch by signing up for the four day Level 1 Avalanche Course December 15-18. The first two afternoons, 4-8 p.m. will be spent at the Issaquah REI, followed by two full days outside at Alpental. The course is run by Pro Guiding Service and costs $310.