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 24 hours 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.
Course cost includes student manual, AIARE field book, use of avalanche safety equipment, instruction and guiding. Mazama Course has an additional $50 snowmobile fee unless you plan to bring your own sled.
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 will begin promptly at 8 am. The first day will begin with introductions, course goals, and a case study. We will spend this morning reviewing the material covered in the online learning component, as well as checking for understanding of this material. We have found this blended learning style offers students a significantly deeper understanding of the course material compared to a traditional course. Next we will shift the focus to terrain analysis. This is the key element to staying alive in avalanche terrain and will be one of the largest topics taught on the entire course. In the afternoon, we will move outdoors for introductory training in avalanche rescue (we also teach a separate full-day AIARE Rescue Course that provides more in-depth training). We will focus on practicing with our beacons, shovels and probes in a variety of exercises and rescue scenarios. By the end of the day, you will be a competent and confident beacon operator and an asset to any rescue situation.
Day 2 will again begin indoors with a study of the mountain snowpack, travel techniques and decision making. By mid morning, we will move outdoors and do a short tour focused on practicing field observations and snowpack tests and how they relate to decision making in the backcountry. Later that afternoon, we will return the classroom for a session on trip planning as well as discussing the oft-underestimated human factors. 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 5-6pm 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.