Exploring NWAC Education

How do I avoid being caught in an avalanche?  Though the question is short, the answer is complex and there are a multitude of different pathways to explore to help you mitigate your risk in the backcountry. At NWAC, our mission is to reduce avalanche impacts by equipping you, the community, with mountain weather and avalanche forecasts, education, and data.

Below you’ll find lots of educational opportunities and how they interact to help you find the best pathway forward at any skill level. No matter where you are in the process, there is always more to learn, and you’ll notice that the pathway sometimes heads in circles because it is often appropriate to retake a step.

Explore this page and learn more about various programming. We have listed courses taught by NWAC, by local guide services, and informal methods like mentorship and experience.

We Serve






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Avalanche Awareness Course

Free  |  1-1.5 Hours

This virtual class provides a basic approach to managing risk. NWAC instructors will explain how to access avalanche and mountain weather forecasts and recognize basic signs of avalanche danger.

Basics for Backcountry Winter Recreation

Free  |  Online eLearning modules

Six modules that will help you get started on the path to safely recreating in the wintertime mountains. Use these resources at your own pace.


Follow NWAC on social media, subscribe to the Backcountry Bulletin, and check out the NWAC Blog. We update these resources frequently and they’re great ways to stay informally connected to the mountains!

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Laying Tracks Workshop Series

$80* for a four week series

Learn the fundamentals around travel in the wintertime backcountry. Each Zoom Webinar will focus on a skill that helps you build a travel plan and understand your resources for traveling in avalanche terrain.

*NWAC Members get a 20% discount on education classes!

Other Introductory Courses

Backcountry Ski Clinic
BC Adventure Guides
Learn more >

Guided Ski Tours
BC Adventure Guide
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Intro to Avalanche Awareness
Mt Baker Ski Area
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Intro to Touring
BC Adventure Guides
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Wednesday Night Gatherings
The Summit at Snoqualmie
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Avalanche Awareness & Backcountry Fundamentals
Mt Baker Ski Area
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Intro to Backcountry Touring
Alpine Ascents International
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Crevasse Clinic
Alpine Ascents International
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Getting into the habit of checking the forecast every day and even filling out a blue book can be a good way to track the snowpack so by the time the weekend rolls around you’re already clued into what to look out for.

AIARE Level 1 Course

Three-day / 24-hour introduction to avalanche hazard management.

Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a backcountry trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn rescue techniques required to find and dig up a buried person (if an avalanche occurs and someone in the party is caught).

AIARE Rescue Course

One-day stand-alone course that is intended to be retaken on a regular basis in order to keep abreast of best practices in rescue techniques and gear.

New participants will learn the basics of companion rescue, while returning participants will expand their skill set with advanced topics and realistic scenario practice to help improve their skills.


Consider retaking an AIARE Level 1. After gaining experience in the 
backcountry you will get more out of the course.

Member Webinars

This offering is currently paused. We will provide updates as we have member-specific programming become available.

Northwest Snow and Avalanche Workshops

Free to Members   |  1-day Workshop

A continuing education series for NWAC members that will help you get the most out of NWAC products & sharpen your backcountry tool set.

Find a Mentor and Build Experience

Get outside with a trusted and experienced partner to observe and learn by doing.

AIARE Level 2

3-day / 14 hour course  

The AIARE 2 provides backcountry leaders the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision-making skills by applying their skills to new terrain and situations. 

Continuing Resources

Read Accident Reports

Using accident reports as a tool for understanding what can go wrong is a great way to prevent you from being caught in a similar situation.

Go to the accident report page>

Submit an Observation

Not only do observations help forecasters build sound products. They also help you start thinking critically about your environment.

Submit an observation >

Join a Club

Clubs like the Washinton Alpine Club, Mountaineers and Mazamas can help you build connections and gain access to mentorship and instruction

Hire a Guide

We’re lucky in the Pacific Northwest to have access to a lot of great guiding companies and a guided day out is one of the best ways to get one-on-one instruction to help fill gaps and develop your skills for understanding and moving in avalanche terrain.

Subscribe to the Avalanche Review

Articles published in The Avalanche Review improve the knowledge and skills of its readers through topics addressing advances in forecasting, control techniques, education, and research.

Learn more >

Watch NSAW Videos

For the past four years we have filmed all the talks from the Northwest Snow and Avalanche Workshop. Watch these talks to sharpen skills on everything from mental models to the latest in lidar technology.

Watch >