Heather Meadows Cafe open Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon View Cafe & Summer details here

Intro to Backcountry Fundamentals

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 backcountry decision making and safety practices.

By the end of this field 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.


• Risk Management & Decision Making
• Mt. Baker’s Backcountry Policy & Being Prepared
• Introduction to 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. We will be walking and digging in snow. Skis/Snowboards will not be used.

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


For winter 2023-2024, all in-person sessions will be conducted outdoors in the field at the Heather Meadows base area in the Beacon Basin (near the base of Chair 1).

Registration is online only and opens November 1.



1.5 hours




Maximum 6, larger groups can be accommodated by special request

Session Dates for 2023-24

AJan. 1311:00 - 12:30
BJan. 131:30 - 3:00
CJan. 1411:00 - 12:30
DJan. 141:30 - 3:00
EFeb. 311:00 - 12:30
FFeb. 31:30 - 3:00
GFeb. 411:00 - 12:30
HFeb. 41:30 - 3:00

Enrollment begins November 1