Laying Tracks: Building a Foundation for Winter Backcountry Travel (virtual)

Join Northwest Avalanche Center’s staff for a virtual four week series and learn the fundamentals around travel in the wintertime backcountry. Each week will focus on a skill that helps you build a travel plan and understand your resources for traveling in avalanche terrain. Workshops are dynamic and interactive, providing opportunities to ask all your questions of the professionals at NWAC.

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Registration has closed for the 2023 season. Please check back next fall.

2022/23 Laying Tracks Dates

This four week virtual class will run on Wednesdays beginning January 11, 2023. Classes run from 6:30-8:00 PM over Zoom.

Joining late? All registered students will automatically receive recordings of all four sessions.

Cost: $80 for all four classes. NWAC Members save 20%!

Wednesday January 11, 2023: Equipment and Avalanche Rescue Gear
Wednesday January 18, 2023: Mountain Weather Forecasts
Wednesday January 25, 2023: NWAC Avalanche Forecasts
Wednesday February 1, 2023: Planning for Winter Mountain Travel

Participants should have understanding of avalanches as founded in an awareness course or Level 1 avalanche course. This class will help prepare you for a multi-day avalanche course as well as supplement what you have learned if you have already taken one. We recommend that participants have taken an awareness course or a multi-day avalanche course.

Week 1 | Trip Planning & Prep: Identifying Gear and Resources for Winter Travel

While some of the contents in your pack remain the same throughout the entire year, the wintertime mountains require special attention and tools. This workshop walks you through prepping your pack and settling on resources for your upcoming winter backcountry trip. Our seasoned backcountry professionals will discuss what has worked best for them, their strategy for packing, and the resources they use to plan their backcountry traveling adventures. You may already be aware of the essentials, but this workshop will help you learn the tricks for gear failure and weather challenges unique to the Pacific Northwest Maritime climate.

Week 2 | Mountain Weather Forecasts: Using Weather Forecasts to Optimize Your Plan

We all use weather forecasts for deciding how to plan our week and whether to grab a rain jacket, but applying a weather forecast to our wintertime snow objectives is crucial to enjoying a fun and safe outing. Learning how to get the most out of the Mountain Weather Forecast will not only help you understand the weather conditions but also give you a better sense for the snowpack. Join NWAC’s avalanche meteorologists and forecasters to discuss how you can best use our purpose-built mountain weather forecasts to prep for your next adventure and learn how to apply the forecast to your trip plan.

Week 3 | NWAC Avalanche Forecast: Making the Most of an Avalanche Forecast

You are already aware that NWAC is a great resource for understanding the avalanche danger, but are you getting the most out of the forecast? During this workshop, our NWAC forecasters will help you navigate and become more familiar with NWAC’s avalanche forecasts. Participants will engage in a technology driven activity that helps identify key take-aways from the forecast and how to best use our avalanche forecast as a tool you can apply to your wintertime objectives.

Week 4 | Winter Navigation: Using Topos to Identify Avalanche Terrain and Snowpack Development

You know how to look at a topographic map and visualize the terrain you are about to enter. Have you thought about how those contour lines can help you identify avalanche terrain, terrain traps, best routes to travel safely through avalanche terrain, and how terrain affects the snowpack? Join NWAC for a night of exploring maps through the lens of winter travel. Our instructors will guide you through activities that helps you select a route through avalanche terrain using topographic maps, NWAC forecasting products, and other tools.