Recreational Level 1 Avalanche Training Preparation Tips – Cripple Creek Backcountry

Recreational Level 1 Avalanche Training Preparation Tips

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Recreational Level 1 Avalanche Training Preparation Tips

We partner with AMGA-accredited guiding service Aspen Expeditions to offer comprehensive avalanche education and companion rescue training. We have a list of valuable resources to help best prepare you for one of these courses. Keep reading for our top three tips on how you can best prepare for an avalanche training course.

#1: Practice Touring Before Your Course

One of the biggest mistakes we hear from instructors is that students arrive to their class with little to no familiarity with their equipment. Many of us have been skiing or snowboarding our whole lives, but the jump from downhill gear to alpine touring equipment is significant. Get out to your local ski mountain to practicing the motions of ski touring or splitboarding. Here's a list of skills that you can practice before getting to your avalanche education course:
1. Transition your equipment (bindings, boots, poles) from uphill to downhill mode
2. Take off and put on climbing skins
3. Layer appropriately for uphill touring and downhill skiing/riding
4. Understand efficient skinning technique
5. Check your equipment for proper fit and function (boots!, bindings, skis, skins, layers)
Learning the skills of ski touring/splitboarding before getting to your avalanche education course will set you off on the right foot. Since you're already dialed with backcountry travel and self care, you can now give full focus to the avalanche education and companion rescue.

#2 Do Your Homework Ahead of Time

The first day of your avalanche training course will be an in classroom setting (or online in the world of COVID). Several hours of formal lecture learning will be thrown at you very quickly. If this is the first time you are hearing or reading information about terrain management, group dynamics, or snow types, you may experience information overload. To avoid information falling through the cracks, consider reading an avalanche education book or taking an online avalanche awareness course before hand. Then you can bring valuable questions to your instructor and engage in the classroom with more intention. Here are some resources that we recommend:

Online Avalanche Awareness Courses We Recommend:

Avalanche.org Interactive Tutorial
Avalanche.org Interactive Tutorial Here
Know Before You Go Free Online Courses
KBYG Online Courses Here

Books We Recommend:

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, 3rd Edition
Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain Here
Avalanche Essentials: A Step-by-Step System From Safety and Survival
Avalanche Essentials Here

#3: Dial in Your Layering System

Managing your layers and sweat can make or break your experience. Your avalanche course will be an all-day affair in the elements for two days. You’ll be skinning, skiing, digging snow study pits, and standing during instructor/student discussions. If you sweat out all of your clothing on the way up to a piece of terrain and then have to stand there in the cold and wind, your mind will quickly drift from the important information your instructor is giving you to day dreams of a hot cup of cocoa next to a warm fire in your imaginary mountain chalet. Check the weather for your field days, dress appropriately, and pack extra layers in case the weather turns south. It's tough to know what to wear for specific weather. Ask your instructor for layering advice. Also, try out different layering systems and see what works for you while you are practicing your touring before the course ;)

This course could be the beginning of a rich life of experience in the backcountry

Introductory avalanche training is a great step towards making better decisions and staying safe in the backcountry. Follow these tips to get best prepared so you can get the most of your course. Not signed up for an introductory avalanche training yet? Check out some offerings that we have below:

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  • Alex Popovich
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