Whether you have just taken your first avalanche course or have been skiing avalanche terrain for decades, this course can help take your terrain assessment skills to the next level. Terrain assessment is the most important skill for moving through avalanche terrain safely and being able to choose the right slope to ride given the avalanche conditions of the day.
We have found over the years that the standard Avalanche Level 1 and Level 2 courses are a little light on moving through avalanche terrain, due to group size and participants’ skiing/riding skills. The group size on the Terrain Assessment Tour is limited to you and your backcountry partners, so you are able to move through a significant amount of terrain under the direct mentorship of an experienced guide.
These courses are offered at Washington Pass, Stevens Pass, and Blewett Pass. They can be snowmobile access trips at Washington Pass, Ski Area “Out of Bounds” skiing at Stevens Pass or standard backcountry trips at Stevens or Blewett.
Participants will meet in the early morning to discuss the weather and avalanche forecasts and make a plan for the day. Since this course will be a private course with your touring partners the terrain choice will be up to the participants and will mimic a real day out with your backcountry partners, with the added benefit of having an experienced ski guide as a resource.
The day will be spent moving through as much terrain as possible given the group skill level, fitness, learning goals and avalanche conditions for the day. An emphasis will be placed on getting the best turns possible while analyzing the group decision-making process along the way.
There is not a set curriculum for this particular course. Each group brings a unique skill set and experience base to work with and the course will be customized in order to increase the group’s ability to assess avalanche terrain and become better at choosing the right slopes in the future.
To get the most out of this course we recommend all participants take a Level 1 Avalanche Course prior to this course. That being said, if you have a solid foundation from years of riding in avalanche terrain and understand the concepts of the Avalanche Problem and Avalanche Hazard Assessment then you may take this course without formal education.
The most important skills to have to make the most out of this course are good backcountry skiing/riding skills and fitness. The more efficiently you move through the backcountry the more you and your partners will get out of this course.