Winter provides the exciting opportunity for skiers, snowboarders, snowmobiles, and climbers to adventure into the snow covered back-country terrain. Conquering this terrain can be challenging, exciting, and rewarding. Yet, with a sudden snow slide, the adventurer can become a victim of an avalanche.
In 90% of avalanche incidents, the avalanche was triggered by a back-country adventurers. Often, the warning signs existed. It is up to the back-country enthusiastic to learn, understand and respect the warning signs of avalanche conditions. They should develop decision making skills based on critical data, education, and experience. Back-country adventurers should be prepared to determine and handle potentially hazardous conditions through education, awareness, preparedness, and practice. Signing up for an Avalanche Education course is an important first step in a continuous education process of making wiser decisions in back-country terrain.
What to look for in an avalanche education course?
Choose a course taught by qualified, certified, and experienced instructors. The back-country experience, teaching experience, and qualifications of an instructor leading a class varies. Your quality of instruction both in the classroom and out in the terrain is very important. Ensure your instructor will be experienced and qualified. Choose a course providing outdoor fieldwork along with the indoor classroom instruction. It is very important to gain actual experience in terrain appropriate to your needs. Choose the appropriate course level for you needs. Levels of curriculum range from awareness classes to advanced professional courses. What is the best avalanche course level for you?
Avalanche Awareness: Generally an indoor lecture covering basic avalanche information. This class is an optional first step leading to a Level 1 course. Level 1 Course: Designed to cover a minimum of 24 hours of instruction with half of the instruction coming from field work. This is the base level of education providing a solid foundation for making decisions in back-country terrain. Level 1 Refresher: Designed to refresh and build on the avalanche education from a Level 1 course. Level 2 Course: Designed to build on Level 1 education and introduce the process of identifying current conditions about snow instability based on direct observation skills. Level 3 Course: Designed for avalanche professionals after meeting minimum requirements of education and applied experience.