Professional, Technical, and Educational
Services for the Alpine Environment

Avalanche Education Programs

What's New for the 2010 - 2011 Season

Online Level 1 Modular Course:

We began developing a Level 1 online course several years ago, and a pilot ("beta") program was run during the last three seasons following a year or two of preliminary development prior to that. This approach has proven itself as viable and effective and has been well received and very successful. We have now turned the online part over to the non-profit avalanche institute , and full details as well as registration info can be found there now.

We are continuing to offer field days in support of the online program since the avalanche center can not do that for a variety of reasons. Our field days are provided on a volunteer basis and there is no cost. Participants must meet the prerequisites, whether they are enrolled in the course, have completed the course and have current certification, or have challenged the prerequisite modules by taking the assessments from them. Information on all of this is now posted in the Avalanche Institute operated by

For the latest field day options please check our schedule page. In many cases dates are added or finalized as students in the course require them so check back often, and don't hesitate to contact us to request another date/location. You cannot actually register for a field day unless you are enrolled in the online course, enrolled in the necessary modules, or have credit for them. If you are currently taking the prerequisites you must complete them before the field day. We cannot schedule field days based on people who claim to be interested but may or may not actually register.

Background on the Online Portions of the Level 1 Course

All of the details have been turned over to the site now, and the Avalanche Institute there has much more complete information and should be considered the definitive source. There you will find a complete FAQ, a course flowchart with objectives and complete descriptions of each module, and registration details. However, some background follows.

The full Level 1 is very comprehensive and goes into some material many programs leave for Level 2, such as snow crystal metamorphism and an overview of detailed snow profiles. It also reviews all or most of the decision making tools in one of the longer modules of the course, rather than covering only the one which is the latest fad. This makes the full course more thorough than anything that can be offered in 24 hours that include field time.

Because there are assessments throughout the entire course it is possible to provide students with a true Certification. Everyone claims to offer a "certificate" these days, but at this time none of these are backed by any kind of assessment or standard or backed by any organization other than an individual course provider. These certificates do not indicate that the student covered particular topics at all, let alone successfully. Our new certification will document your successful completion of all modules, and therefore a basic mastery of all topics and objectives. This will have many implications. The Avalanche Institute (and AlpenPro) will be able to fully back this certification since it documents a well defined achievement. For organizations with trip leaders, and for individuals such as ski instructors who may work off-piste at times, this is a step up in documenting risk management. We will also be able to offer advanced modules on particular topics and use our certification (or completion of select modules) as a prerequisite.

The flow chart for the program is shown below. There is a more complete version in the Avalanche Institute course info, and on that one you can read the objectives for any of the modules by clicking on its box. That version also has a list of modules on the right side with links to full descriptions - objectives, topics, resources, and more. How many programs provide this kind of content detail online? (And how many can guarantee that you will be able to cover everything they do list, no matter when or where you take their course or who teaches it?)

Level 1 Course Flowchart

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