What kind of training do I need to enter into backcountry terrain?

These modules and the resources below are a great start to learning about avalanches and wintertime travel, but in order to really manage your risk, you’ll need to get more training. Here you’ll find NWAC’s pathway to education and training, with both classes taught by us and local providers.

Backcountry education is an iterative process and we encourage you to revisit resources and retake classes.

  • Avalanche Awareness Class: 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.
  • Laying Tracks Workshop 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.
  • AIARE Level 1 Course:  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 some-one 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.
  • Member Webinars: A continuing education series for NWAC members that will help you get the most out of NWAC products & sharpen your backcountry tool set.
  • Northwest Snow and Avalanche Workshops: An all day workshop designed to address the latest in snow and avalanche education.
  • Find a Mentor & Build Experience: Join a club, hire a guide, ask more experienced friends to take you out! Experience traveling in the mountains is the key to internalizing all the above training.

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