Backcountry 101 - December 27 & 28 - Private

Backcountry 101 - December 27 & 28 - Private

Salt Lake
December 27, 2019
December 28, 2019
Regular price
Sale price

January 13: Alta

January 14: Alta

Course Description

Skiing and snowboarding is much safer and more fun when you understand avalanche hazard and how to move through the mountains safely.  If you’re tired of following your friends who have more experience than you and want to become a valuable member of the team, this is the class for you. Nobody wants to be that partner that can't make informed decisions or be counted on during a rescue. Spend an evening in the classroom and a day on the snow with the pros to learn how to get out in the backcountry, have fun and come home ready to do it again. 

On Friday night, an instructor will use videos, pictures, stories and class exercises to explain avalanche characteristics, snowpack fundamentals, clues to instability, terrain assessment, safe travel protocol, rescue, and decision-making techniques. 

You'll learn how to recognize avalanche terrain, make individual and group decisions based on current conditions, and rescue a buried partner. 

On Saturday, we will meet and break into groups of about 6 and make travel plans based on current conditions. We will spend the day touring the backcountry. We'll assess the snowpack, practice safe route-finding and decision-making, and perform a rescue. We encourage all participants to register for a 4-hour Introduction to Rescue Basics or an 8-hour Avalanche Rescue Course in conjunction with this 101 class.

Who should take this course?

This class is for skiers & snowboarders who go into the backcountry in winter.  It is designed as an introductory course for those who are new to backcountry skiing and riding. We highly recommend that you have some experience using your touring equipment ie. transitioning your gear into uphill and downhill mode, turning your transceiver on/off into search mode, assembling your probe and shovel. You can do this in safe areas away from avalanche terrain.  This course can serve as a refresher for those who have previously taken formal avalanche courses and are looking to refresh their skills and learn the most up to date information and techniques. 

Course Goals

  • Describe the equipment necessary for winter backcountry travel.
  • Recognize that most fatal avalanche accidents were triggered by the people involved and that preparation and training prior to backcountry travel can save lives.
  • Find and interpret local mountain weather forecast and avalanche advisory information.
  • Differentiate avalanche terrain from terrain where avalanches can not occur.

Course Objectives

  • Perform basic skills required for companion rescue.
  • Interpret the avalanche forecast.
  • Create a trip plan for field day.
  • Perform safe travel techniques to avoid avalanche terrain.

Course Requirements

This is an introductory level course and therefore can be your first avalanche education course. For this course, you are required to provide your own skis with alpine touring bindings and climbing skins or a splitboard with climbing skins. We do not allow snowshoes for this course. You’ll also need to provide your own avalanche rescue equipment. You’ll need a modern 457 kHz Digital 3-Antenna beacon, a collapsible probe 240 cm or longer,  a collapsible metal shovel, and a backpack to carry your equipment. Make sure that you are familiar with how to assemble your probe and shovel, turn your beacon on and off and into search/send modes. If you need to purchase rescue equipment you can do so here. A portion of your sale benefits the Utah Avalanche Center.

Ability Level: To take this course we strongly recommend that you are an advanced level downhill skiers or snowboarders. That means you are capable and comfortable riding black-diamond slopes within a resort boundary in any snow conditions on your alpine touring equipment. 

This is not a learn to ski or snowboard class. If you are unsure of your abilities, please contact If you have never been skiing or snowboarding in the backcountry and want an introduction to the sport, we suggest you contact Utah Mountain Adventures.

Fitness Level: In order to maximize the course experience for you and all students we recommend that you be fit enough to spend the day hiking uphill with skins on and descending steep slopes in unpredictable snow conditions. 

Gear: You will need skis or a splitboard, boots, bindings, and skins capable of uphill and downhill travel. Please do not show up planning to use snowshoes. You will need an avalanche transceiver, probe, shovel, and backpack. You must be familiar with the basic functions of your equipment and ready to use it. 

If you need to purchase equipment you can do so by visiting: Fitting Room. A portion of your purchase through benefits the Utah Avalanche Center.

If you need to rent equipment you can do so by visiting Black Diamond Retail StoreREI or the University Recreation Program.

Additional Gear: You will also need to carry with you everything you would take for a typical day trip in the mountains:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Extra layers
  • First aid and Repair Kit
  • Sunglasses & Sunscreen

Cancellation policy

Our classes generally fill up.  If you can't attend the class, please let us know by 5:00 PM Friday the week before your course for a partial refund- We will refund all but $25. If you cancel after that but more than 24 hours before the evening class, we'll refund all but $65 of your fee. After 5 pm the day before class, there will be no refund.  If you register for a course but need to transfer to another course date there will be a $25 charge.