Being safe in the mountains in the winter time ultimately means having a solid understanding of avalanches and how they are caused. It doesn’t matter whether you are a skier, snowboarder, or winter Alpinist avalanches are a major threat of winter recreationalists. Terrain, Weather, and Triggers (sometimes yourself) all combine to create the avalanche triangle. This trilogy combines to create a deadly combination if you don’t have the skills to avoid a bad situation.
Unfortunately for back country skiers and snowboarders the best terrain, that we most often love to ride, is also the terrain that most often creates fatal avalanches. For this reason it is imperative that we be well-educated in what to do in the event of an avalanche. We need to know the warning signs as well as what to do in the event of an accident.
In our course offering we have both Avalanche Levels I and II. Level I is an introduction into the basic understanding of the avalanche triangle (mentioned above) and how to avoid getting yourself caught in bad situations as well as basic rescue. The Level II course is for more avid backcountry users or aspiring professionals. This course expands on the knowledge base gained in the first course then goes deeper into the snow science and test to more accurately forecast avalanche potential.
Finally, the last course that we offer is unique only to California Ski Guides. This is Backcountry Survival and Self-Rescue. This course is designed by our Senior Staff and our Consulting Wilderness Physician Dr. Emily Sagalyn. It is designed to teach backcountry users the basics of how to preform an improvised rescue or overnight in the middle of winter using the equipment the average skier might have on hand. This in conjunction with proper avalanche education is crucial to safe winter backcountry travel.