Pushing The Edge
Story: Billy Brown Photos: Betsy Erickson & Courtesy of Balanced Edge
BALANCED EDGE TRAINING SCHOOL
Northern California’s mountains, caves, rivers, lakes and endless trail systems provide a cornucopia of outdoor features to explore, but those features come with some requisite risks. Unfortunately, those risks can discourage novice adventurers from exploring the beauty that lies in their own backyard. Fortunately, Balanced Edge outdoor training school offers survival, rescue and technical training, not only to educate people about enjoying the outdoors in a safe manner, but also to bond them through their experience.
Jason Hull, an Eagle Scout and former team leader with Shasta County Search and Rescue, started Balanced Edge in January with fellow Search and Rescue team member Brent Bowen, former Shasta County Mountain Rescue Team lead trainer Kevin Hawkins, and Dr. Mike Barnum, medical director for the National College of Technical Instruction in Las Vegas. All are passionate about the outdoors and experienced in the art of search and rescue. “This represents the culmination of more than 20 years of experience in leading groups and focusing on the market trends in the outdoor industry,” he says. “We have brought together passion, experience and shared goals to create a successful team.”
According to Hull, Northern California is a prime location for it.
“NorCal is ideal for survival training, rescue training and outdoor adventures due to its many pristine locations and recreation areas,” he says. “Nearly all of the environments in which Balanced Edge conducts courses are located in this area, such as rivers, lakes, mountains, canyons, rock, snow and caves. Lots of options with lots of room, and without the crowds.”
Their first outing in March took eight people out for six days and featured multidimensional training including swift-water rescue, rope rescue, litter management and cave rescue techniques.
Balanced Edge is not just for the aspiring hardcore adventurer. “This is for anyone who wants to learn new skills,” Hull says.
Upcoming courses will cover a range of survival and rescue education, including an improvised rope rescue course in September and Ultimate Rescue Training in March. They also offer more recreational courses, such as a spelunking scavenger hunt in October and swift-water awareness and rescue training for fly fishermen. They are also putting together a series of father-daughter and father-son survival courses for a combination of relationship-building and outdoor skill development.
“Instructors will provide the guidance and support needed during the first day and provide a fun, engaging experience that is challenging and thought-provoking,” Hull says. “Scenarios will be used at different times and levels of intensity to accomplish individual and group goals. Lots of emphasis on leadership development and problem solving.”
Hull plans to expand that team-building to the business world as well. “We’re leveraging simulated rescue as a tool in team-building,” he says, adding that putting a team in an unfamiliar environment puts everyone on an even playing field. “When you’re out here, everyone’s engaged; nobody’s going to be tuning out. It’s a great combination of physical and mental challenges.”
There are plans to add an online gear shopping section on the website as well. “The site itself will be streamlined, simple, intuitive, and offer quick access to useful information. Users will be guided through the process of selecting the right gear for the specific activity, choosing sizes, etc. The goal is to create an experience that is informative and enjoyable.”
And that sounds like the whole purpose behind Balanced Edge: to make the outdoors more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.