|Avalanche Course FAQ|
What is included in a Ridge Explorations Avalanche Education program?
Professional guiding and instruction
Transportation to and from the trailhead
Lift ticket costs, if applicable
These avalanche courses are most useful for backcountry recreationalists and aspiring guides, including skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, and climbers who frequent winter and spring mountain terrain. The Avalanche Awareness & Level I courses are finely tuned to the maritime and intermountain meteorology and snowpacks most common in the Cascade and Olympic ranges - since field trips will study those snowpacks and students are most likely to visit these areas. Lecture materials and case studies provide a bridge to the study of dangerous weak layers; only occasionally found in this region, but more common in inland areas.
General Field trip information and Student Physical Capabilities:
3. Level 1 field trips cover longer distances and more elevation so greater fitness is required. Good physical fitness is required for this course.
5. Field trip locations are generally of intermediate difficulty.
While these courses are not addressing snowmobilers, the skills of transceiver skills, rescue training and snow evaluation skills are applicable to snowmobilers. You can call us to talk about this. We may, in the future, be offering courses for sledders.
In the Avalanche Awareness & Level 1 course the lecture series take place at local venues like Feathered Friends, the University of Puget Sound , Greenwater Community Center, and Outdoor Research Retail Store. This should facilitate finding a course location near the workplace or the home. Class locations and directions.
We use Crystal Mountain (sometimes Stevens Pass) for field trip course areas. Field trip location will be announced in class. We are trying to get permitted in the Blewett Pass, but the Forest Service is not issuing new permits presently. We will continue our efforts to lobby the Forest Service for more teaching areas. For Crystal field trips, please bring$20 cash for lift ticket (2014 price).
The 3-lecture format courses take place over a two to three week period. So unless commuting to one of the lecture locations is practical, a 3-lecture format course would be difficult. A 2-day format course offers a 6-hour classroom session on a weekend instead of three 2-hour classroom sessions on weekday evenings. This course structure allows students to schedule a weekend and may be the solution for those beyond commuting range. This also appeals to some people who would rather not do the evening classes. Field trip dates are chosen for convenience in both formats and fill on a first-come, first-served basis.
Because Avalanche Awareness field trips average one mile one way and about 800 vertical feet, most beginners should be fit and skilled enough to accomplish comfortably the necessary travel to complete the field part of the Avalanche Awareness course. The Level 1 Field Days are separated into intermediate and advanced ability levels for the benefit of all students. Students with advanced skiing and snowboarding skills who sign-up for an advanced ability field trip section should expect longer field trips. It should be emphasized that beginner skiers would be much better off on snowshoes than skis. Even the transceiver practice will be difficult for beginner skiers but not beginner snowshoers.
In the rare case that Ridge Explorations Avalanche Education has to cancel a trip due to insufficient registration or other reasons beyond our control we will work with you to place you on another date that works with your schedule. If this is not possible we will provide you with a credit or a full refund.
Avalanche field trips begin early and end late. Plan on being gone all day.
We will gladly accept participants 16 years or older on our field trips, if they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. You must be 18 years or older to participate in a Ridge Explorations Avalanche Education trip on your own. Younger students may be accepted by special arrangement, especially for Avalanche Safety and Rescue. Letter to Parents of Adolescent Students.
The Avalanche Awareness field trip is taught like a regular ski or snowshoe tour, but the focus is on transceiver skills training, rescue training and snow pit skills. It is a very full program packed with information and training, but the amount of time spent on these fundamental skills limits the amount of time for travel. It should be realized that there is a lot to learn on the subject of avalanche safety, and one day in the field is not adequate to cover what the beginning backcountry enthusiast needs. The Level 1 field trip is optional, but it is highly recommended that students take the extra training that comes with the additional Level 1 field trip. The good news is that Level 1 field trips are travel days! We cover much more ground and consequently are able to teach much more terrain evaluation and decision-making. Snow pit work is reviewed and human factors are discussed at length, as well. More travel allows students to experience the snow on several aspects while enjoying a lengthy tour under the instructional guidance of a professional guide with many years of experience in avalanche country. By taking the Level 1 field day at the time of their choosing, students complete the certification process for Level 1. It takes much longer to learn the mysteries of snow stability than it does to learn to choose safe terrain. With two solid days of field instruction stressing terrain evaluation, students have a good start on the skills needed to be able to safely gain snow experience.
“When stability is the question, terrain is the answer.”