If you are looking to get into the backcountry, one of the most important things that we can recommend is getting your complete avalanche education. Many groups offer basic Avalanche Awareness seminars. These seminars are purely to spread awareness of the dangers and should not be considered sufficient education for entering into the backcountry.
Avalanche Education Courses
The typical avalanche education program is comprised of a progression of courses that are commonly referred to as your Companion Rescue, Avy Level 1 and Avy Level 2. These courses are invaluable to learning how to travel safely in the backcountry. Over the multiple courses and several days you will learn a multitude of different skills.
- Companion Rescue - Will teach you how to use you your beacon, probe, and shovel to execute a typical avalanche rescue
- Avy 1 - Will teach you how to recognize and avoid typical signs of avalanche danger, and how to appropriately route plan through or near avalanche terrain to avoid such danger
- Avy 2 - Offer backcountry leaders the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills by applying their skills to new terrain and situations
It is highly recommended that participants gain at least one season’s worth of backcountry travel experience between taking the Avy 1 and the Avy 2 curriculums, but at a minimum your should complete your Companion Rescue and Avy Level 1 before venturing into the backcountry.
Over several years of operating in the backcountry, we've taken the time to get to know and vet out a number of guide operations that we now partner with and support. Through these partnerships we've created avalanche education opportunities for you that we not only know will be quality, but also will likely include a free equipment demo to help you get out there for your first steps.
Just take a look at the calendar below and search for the regions near you. If you can't find any programs in your neck of the woods, the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education has an excellent listing of course opportunities in the United States.