This avalanche course is designed for anyone looking to feel more confident traveling and being a contributing group member in avalanche terrain. This program has a pre-course online learning component, plus three days of instruction provided by experienced ski guides and avalanche forecasters. The curriculum is based on the AIARE (American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education) Level 1 curriculum and taught by AIARE trained instructors.
NCMG has transitioned to primarily offering private courses. We will offer one or two open enrollment courses each year for folks that don't have regular touring partners or whose partners have already taken their level 1. We have found this to be a much better learning model - taking this avalanche course with your regular touring partners. This gives you the ability to move through the mountains and the curriculum at an appropriate pace and through terrain that is appropriate for your team's skill level. Since the main focus of these courses is decision-making in avalanche terrain, taking this course with your regular touring partners maximizes what you can take away from this program.
Course cost includes student manual, AIARE field book, use of avalanche safety equipment, instruction, guiding, and snowmobile rental (when needed).
After you register for the course, you will receive an invitation to join the online learning portion of the course. Here you will find modules that you will work through at your own pace with checks for understanding along the way. The goal of an AIARE Level 1 course is that you become a useful member of a team traveling in avalanche terrain. Over time, the avalanche industry has realized the critical importance of decision making and in that vein, we spend a lot more time giving you tools to make good decisions than we do focusing on snow science.
Our level 1 class covers a lot of information, so plan on long days that begin early and end in the early evening.
Day 1 - We will meet in our Mazama classroom for a morning or lecture and interactive learning. The afternoon will be spent focused on rescue skills. These essential skills are something every backcountry traveler should have and we want to finish the day feeling everyone would be a competent team member capable of conducting a partner rescue.
Day 2 will begin with a short morning indoors before transitioning to the field. The goal of this day is to conduct a short tour designed to learn and practice field observations, snowpack tests, and how they relate to decision making in the backcountry. This will prepare the group for the following full day in the field.
Day 3 will be a full day in the mountains. We will leave early and head out for a full day of backcountry touring. Here we will cover such topics as terrain analysis and route selection, safe travel techniques, and incorporating field observations into the touring day. This will be a full day with lots of information and small group workshops. Expect to be wrapped up between 5-6 pm on Day 3.
Participants should be of intermediate or advanced skiing ability on telemark, alpine touring or snowboarding gear. Backcountry travel will require the use of skins for skis and splitboards for snowboarders (no snowshoes, please). Participants are encouraged to bring their own beacon for use in the course, though NCMG will have Backcountry Access beacons, shovels, and probes available for use throughout the program. Be prepared to be outside regardless of the weather conditions. All participants will be required to sign a release form at the start of the course.