Skiing and snowboarding in the backcountry is much safer and much more fun when you have an understanding of avalanches. Knowing when you can go big and knowing when you need to dial it back. 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. Each one of our Backcountry 101 course is lead by a U.A.C avalanche forecaster. Our instructor team is made up of local guides, ski patrol, and professional riders, all with years of experience teaching avalanche education.
On Thursday night, a forecaster will use videos, pictures, stories and class exercises to explain avalanche characteristics, snowpack fundamentals, clues to instability, terrain assessment, safe travel techniques, rescue techniques and decision-making.
You'll learn how to recognize and travel in avalanche terrain, make individual and group decisions based on current conditions, and rescue a buried partner.
A copy of Bruce Tremper's Avalanche Pocket Guide is included.
On Saturday, we will meet and break into groups of about 6 and make travel plans based on current conditions. We will take one ride up a lift and then leave the resort via an access gate and, from there, spend the rest of the day touring the backcountry surrounding Brighton. We'll assess the snowpack, practice safe route-finding and decision-making, and perform a rescue. We encourage all participants to register for a Companion Rescue course in conjunction with this 101 class.
Requirements & Logistics
Skills: You need to be an advanced level skier or snowboarder, fit enough to spend the day hiking uphill with skins and descending steep slopes in ungroomed, challenging conditions.
Gear: You will need skis (or split-board), boots, bindings and skins capable of uphill and downhill travel (no snowshoes or hiking). You must be familiar with your equipment and ready to use it. You will need a pack (we have some loaners).
Please make sure you are equipped with either a ski-touring or split-boarding set up. Please do not show up planning to use snowshoes. They are a much less efficient mode of travel and will take up valuable learning time. You can rent ski-touring and split-boarding equipment from REI or the University Outdoor Rec. Program.
This is not learn to ski and snowboard class. If you are unsure of your abilities, please contact us. If you have never skied or been snowboarding in the backcountry and want an introduction to the sport, we suggest you contact Utah Mountain Adventures.
You will also need to carry everything you need for a day trip in the backcountry, including:
- Warm clothes (we will be out in the backcountry all day in winter conditions)
- Digital avalanche transceiver (we have some loaners)
- Shovel (we have some loaners)
- Probe (we have some loaners)
- First aid and repair kit
Thursday: 6:00pm to 9:00pm pm Location TBD
Saturday: At 8:00 am we'll meet booted up and ready to go. We'll review the day's avalanche advisory. We will break up into groups of 6 and create a travel plan based on current conditions. In the field, we will practice safe travel protocol, learn to recognize avalanche terrain and signs of instability and perform an avalanche rescue.
Recommended reading: We recommend that you read Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain (Tremper) and Snow Sense (Fredston) prior to class.
Visit: www.whiterisk.org for an interactive e-learning avalanche program.
Do you have your own personal avalanche safety gear? If not, check out the Backcountry.com "Fitting Room" to purchase your own safety gear. Every purchase from the link benefits the Utah Avalanche Center. Click the link here.
Our classes generally fill up. If you can't attend the class, please let us know by 5 pm Friday afternoon the week before class 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 have any questions please email Bo@utahavalanchecenter.org