Intro to Avalanche Awareness

Backcountry hiking photo

Have you considered entering the backcountry toward Table Mountain or hiking up Hemispheres from the ski area? Are you considering buying a beacon and riding with a pack? Do you just want to know more about when, where and why avalanches happen?
Our first step to avalanche safety will introduce you to these topics by conveying the most important basics you need to know about backcounty decision making and safety practices as you start becoming more educated about the backcounty.

By the end of this single day session you will learn to identify avalanche terrain, learn generally why avalanches happen, read NWAC’s local Mt Baker avalanche forecast and understand some of the red flags that indicate dangerous backcountry conditions. You will also learn basic avalanche beacon techniques and the essential items to carry in the backcountry. You will also learn the basic rules, etiquette and guidelines of entering the backcountry — including an intro to safe travel, group decision-making and beacon rescue techniques.


• Beginning Avalanche Awareness
• Risk Management & Decision Making
• Ski Area Policies & Signage
• Avalanche Rescue: Principles & Practice


Designed for new transceiver users, the field exercises provide basic orientation to transceiver use and rescue equipment in scenarios that build rescue skills.

• Search Principles
• Transceiver Operation
• Companion Rescue


Please bring your backcountry rescue gear and outerwear appropriate for the afternoon field session. Skis/Snowboards will not be used.

A limited number of transceivers, probes and shovels are provided for student use courtesy of Backcountry Access and Ortovox. Please note on enrollment if you need use of these.


For winter 2022-23, all in-person sessions will be conducted outdoors in the field. Afternoon field sessions meet outside at the Heather Meadows Base Area at 12:00 and end at 3:00 pm. Information about meeting location, additional virtual sessions and e-learning will be provided after course registration.

For the winter of 2022-23 we request that all registration be completed online. Enrollment link below.



3 hours: 12 – 3pm, plus 1 hour virtual learning




Minimum 8 / maximum 16 (4 students / 1 instructor per field group)

Session Dates for 2022-23

AJan. 4 - Zoom Session
Jan. 8 - Field Session
7:00 - 8:00 pm
12:00 -3:00 pm
BJan. 11 - Zoom Session
Jan. 14 - Field Session
7:00 - 8:00 pm
12:00 -3:00 pm
CFeb. 1 - Zoom Session
Feb. 4 - Field Session
7:00 - 8:00 pm
12:00 -3:00 pm
DFeb. 1 - Zoom Session
Feb. 5 - Field Session
7:00 - 8:00 pm
12:00 -3:00 pm

Enrollment begins December 1