Avalanche Training - Level 1

Avalanche Training - Level 1 - Decision Making In Avalanche Terrain

Class Instructor: 

Brian Lundstedt

This level one course is a three day, 24 hour course which is an introduction to avalanche management.  This course is targeted to the introductory student and the recreational backcountry leader and party members.

The course provides a basic understanding of avalanches, gives a framework for decision making and risk management in avalanche terrain.  An awareness of all aspects of potential avalanche related scenarios will enable the student to analyze the potential risks and make appropriate decisions in avalanche terrain.

Instruction and exercise are practically designed to be useful and applicable in the field.  The student will be taught a basis of knowledge of how to prepare for and carry out a trip, to understand the basic decision making while in the field and learn basic companion rescue techniques. These rescue techniques are directed at the scenario of someone within the party being caught in an avalanche.

The course will provide for a final overview and quiz to test the knowledge and comprehension of the student as well as provide for feedback to the instructors.  Review will include discussion on applying the skills learned and awareness of the inherent dangers of which no course can fully guarantee safety, and also to encourage and promote the application of the knowledge and skills as well as continuing to advance courses in avalanche awareness and training.

This course covers the types of avalanches and their characteristics as well as avalanche motion, size classification and an introduction to the metamorphism and layering of the mountain snowpack.

The student will be taught observation and information gathering which will include field observation techniques, snowpack tests rutschblock and compression tests and avalanche  danger factors or "Red Flags".  They will also gain knowledge to maintain an avalanche check list and understanding of avalanche danger scale.

Trip planning and preparation will be taught particularly in regards to avalanche terrain recognition, assessment and selection.   Route finding and travel techniques are taught with decision making awareness of individual personal factors and the impact of all factors on decision making and safe route preparation.

The final portion of this course focuses on companion rescue techniques both in the classroom and field instruction.

Student Prerequisites: 

Students must be able to travel in avalanche terrain. There are no other prerequisites.

Equipment List: 

  • Clothing for activities and standing in cold/snowy weather (no cotton)
  • Long underwear
  • Insulating layers
  • Outer layer (wind/waterproof)
  • Warm gloves, mitts, headband, and hat
  • Goggles and sunglasses
  • Small personal first aid kit (sunscreen/lip-balm, moleskin, band-aids, medication, etc.)
  • Water Bottle
  • Pack
  • Helmet