Monarch Ski Patrol’s newest avalanche dog began working this month at Monarch Mountain.
The 16 week-old Labrador retriever named Glen is the latest in history of service dogs at the ski area available to assist in search and rescues throughout the Upper Arkansas Valley.
He is already part of the family here and he is getting a lot of attention from people who see him on the hill or in town, said Mike Collette, patroller and first time dog handler.
Glen the avalanche dog is named after Glen Plake, the professional skier. “He is someone I got to know with while patrolling in California and I was inspired by his attitude and ability,” said Collette.
Starting at the beginning of January, Collette began bringing Glen to work at the ski area four days a week.
“Right now we are working on obedience, riding snowmobiles, chair lifts and practicing games of hide and seek,” he said.
Initial training is expected to take two years or more but once complete will enable Glen to lead rescuers to individuals buried in avalanche debris.
If needed, Glen would be a crucial part of backcountry rescues in Chaffee County, said Collette.
Collette hopes that ultimately he and Glen will become certified rescuers through Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment, a program by Flight For Life Colorado that helps service dogs and handlers reach search and rescue operations across the state.
Monarch Mountain is home to three avalanche dogs including Glen. They are sponsored by Friends of Monarch Ski Patrol a 501(c)-3 non-profit that expands the scope of Monarch Ski Patrol by supporting additional educational and search and rescue resources that extend beyond the resort boundary.
A meet-and-greet for Glen will be hosted by Monarch Mountain from 10:30 a.m to Noon Friday, Feb. 3 at the ski area.
John Cameron is a journalist and skier based in central Colorado. He covers public lands issues and outdoor pursuits for various regional and local publications.