An AIARE level 2 avalanche course designed to build on the skills covered in our L1 course that will begin to make you more comfortable with the strange blend of art and science that makes up avalanche forecasting.
This is a professional level course and is used to train ski patrollers, mountain guides, and frequent backcountry travelers that want to improve their decision making skills and avalanche knowledge. This course also includes the introductory and prerequisite components for progression to AIARE level 3 programs.
The AIARE Level 2 course builds from the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in the AIARE level 1 and adds to it the evaluation of factors critical to stability evaluation.
The classroom sections of the course are based in Leavenworth, WA and we use a variety of field locations giving us the ability to observe a variety of snowpacks at various elevations. Much of the training takes place in the backcountry and requires participants to be able to move efficiently in a backcountry environment. AT skis or a split board with skins are your best choice for backcountry travel.
The winter 2013-14 courses will be run by Harlan Sheppard and IFMGA guides John and Olivia Race. All three have extensive backcountry experience as both ski guides and avalanche educators. We are excited about this instructor group as it represents quite varied experience ranging from heli guiding to european ski traverses to 8000 meter summit climbs. This wide variety of experience helps participants gain a feel for how decisions are made in the field in situations with either all modern forecasting tools as well as situations where almost no direct observations can be made easily.
We have secured classroom space for the entirely of the course giving us as much flexibility as possible to move between field and classroom once we know what the weather and snow conditions are like during the course.
- Advance understanding of avalanche terrain, particularly from the perspective of stability analysis.
- Discuss how the snowpack develops and metamorphoses over time; and discuss the factors that contribute to spatial variability.
- Learn standard observation guidelines and recording formats for factors that influence or indicate snow stability. SWAG MODULE.
- Advance understanding of avalanche release and triggering mechanisms.
- Introduce a snow stability analysis and forecasting framework
- Improve companion rescue skills including multiple and deep burials.
- Level 1 Review
- Energy balance, the mountain snowpack and metamorphism
- Faceting; near surface and near crust faceting
- Formation of surface hoar and persistent weak layers
- Skier Triggering: theory and observations
- International and national snow, weather and avalanche observation and recording guidelines (SWAG) including: weather, interpreting forecasts, recording and observation techniques, snow profile techniques and bonding tests, avalanche observations and recording techniques
- Stability analysis checklist: reviewing critical factors including: stability ratings, daily stability forecasts and analysis
- Trip Planning and hazard forecasting for avalanche terrain including: the avalanche danger ratings, terrain analysis using maps/photos, forecasting stability and variability
- Terrain selection and route finding including: group management and hazard management, decision making & human factors
- Information gathering including: site selection and relevancy, spatial variability, and slope tests
- Companion Rescue including: level 1 techniques review, managing multiple burials & close burials, review of the latest shovel techniques
view the SWAG here and you can purchase the SWAG here. It is most important to have a basic snow study kit including: Snow thermometer (Celcius required, digital is nice), a Loupe or magnifying glass (10x to 20x magnification), 2 mechanical pencils, and a Crystal screen. We will give you a field book for recording data that includes useful cheat sheets to remind you of the most commonly used items from the SWAG manual published by the US Forest Service. Other items that are not required, but that you might consider include: a compass, altimeter, inclinometer, snow saw, and rutschblock cord. If working as a professional you will already own most of these items. If not working as a professional you might consider bringing what you have to the course and then deciding what to buy at the end when you have had a chance to see all the latest and greatest gear during the course. Brooks Range Mountaineering is a good source for snow science materials.
Sleeping Lady Retreat and Conference Center
Run of the River Inn
Howard Johnson Inn - Leavenworth
AIARE Level 2 Pre-Course Quiz.
Portions of this program take place on US Forest Service lands under a commercial-outfitter and guide permits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities and is an equal opportunity provider and employer.