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Avalanche training near Salt Lake City?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I just moved to Utah from the Midwest last November. Last year I only skied in bounds, I want to start backcountry skiing next winter. I have no avalanche training yet. I have been recommended Snow Sense and I might read that, but I want to take a class as well. I want to take a real course, not just rely on online guides/courses. Any recommendations as to good courses/instructors in the SLC area? Or at least what type of course to look for? To my understanding there are several "levels", do I just need the level 1? Thanks.
post #2 of 22
Check out the Utah Avalanche Center's website; if memory serves, it has lots of info about courses.
post #3 of 22
http://utahavalanchecenter.org/storeHere's the page listing events. The first avalanche training classes aren't until January, though. I believe REI also sponsors avalanche training.

Other resources are shops like Wasatch Touring and Wild Rose, both of which serve a the backcountry nordic and tele crowd. In particular I'd expect the guys at Wasatch Touring to know what's happening.

It's still pretty far out for more normal people to be thinking about snow, though, so I'd expect more activity in late fall.
post #4 of 22
http://utahavalanchecenter.org/avalanche-classes-other

looks like uac isn't an aiare provider, but they have references for level 1 courses from another provider
post #5 of 22

Last December, there was an avalanche awareness and safety clinic at Snowbird.  Found an announcement from November 2013.  I imagine it filled up quickly.  Not a certification course, but sounds worthwhile.

 

http://www.powder.com/first-chair/powder-launches-safe-zone-avalanche-clinic-sign-now/

post #6 of 22

Besides the already mentioned UAC and Snowbird, Brighton usually offers one or two during the season. They are also usually a little friendlier with the price. If you only want safe backcountry knowledge they have a Backcountry 101 course that gives you everything you will need. It is for the people that really aren't interested in getting bogged down the snow crystal science, etc.  and are not interested in Level 1 or level 2 certification.

 

 ( full disclosure: Backcountry 101 is the course that I have taken)

post #7 of 22

Books to read include Snow Sense as you already mentioned. Additionally, Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. Another book, Backcountry Skiing in Utah has crude maps and trail descriptions that are useful.

 

This website is helpful:

http://wasatchbackcountryskiing.com/

 

He also makes a waterproof map that you can take with you in your pack.

 

Also, get in the habit of reading the avalanche report every day during the season: http://utahavalanchecenter.org/advisory/salt-lake

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for the info! What is the advantage of taking Avalanche 1 over Backcountry 101, besides the already mentioned science part? Would I be safer in the backcountry with Avalanche 1, or is it just information for people who need certifications for certain jobs or what?
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sh4d0w View Post

Thank you everyone for the info! What is the advantage of taking Avalanche 1 over Backcountry 101, besides the already mentioned science part? Would I be safer in the backcountry with Avalanche 1, or is it just information for people who need certifications for certain jobs or what?

No, it's not for certifications. You'll get a more complete basis for making decisions about backcountry travel. 101 is more of an awareness course, Level 1 will give you a lot more information into the how, why, and where of avys. If you can, take Level 1.
post #10 of 22

I'm not sure if it's going this year or not, but the National Avalanche School was some of the best training I have done.  I have taken several L1 and L2 classes and have taught several L1 classes and have some comparisons to draw on.  The NAS session 1 is several days long and is usually held in the fall at Snowbird.  The course is taught by all of the biggest names in the industry.  Bruce Tremper finally convinced me to stop skiing telemark in the BC and helped me in the field to get my pit times down to under 15 minutes.  The fast pits are a huge thing, because if you can't do them quickly, you're likely to not do them.  I can do 3 pits in the time it takes many people to do 1.  Session 2 is also several days long and is held in the winter at Jackson Hole.  Session 1 is mostly indoors and is heavy on theory, session 2 is mostly in the field.  I would place the content of the NAS to be a bit superior to most L2 classes, but not at the L3 standard.

 

 

post #11 of 22

Definitely worth the money to take the class.

 

They are fun, you get to meet people, and a good class will scare you shitless.

post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you! Is the National Avalanche School something I would take in place of Level 1 and Level 2, or in addition? And if I do not take the NAS, is it worth taking Level 2+ or will I be fine with just Level 1? I'm not concerned with knowing enough to teach classes or know all the science behind avalanched just for the sake of knowing it, etc, but I would like to take a higher level class if it would keep me safer.

I will definitely take at least Level 1.
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sh4d0w View Post

Thank you! Is the National Avalanche School something I would take in place of Level 1 and Level 2, or in addition? And if I do not take the NAS, is it worth taking Level 2+ or will I be fine with just Level 1? I'm not concerned with knowing enough to teach classes or know all the science behind avalanched just for the sake of knowing it, etc, but I would like to take a higher level class if it would keep me safer.

I will definitely take at least Level 1.

 

If you aren't teaching or guiding or otherwise in a situation where the official certification is required, you may be better served by just taking a few classes offered by different organizations- to pick up how different people go about evaluating the snow. You may get more out of taking additional (generally cheaper) non certified classes (from experts) than a more expensive certified class.

 

At least, that is my take.

post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

If you aren't teaching or guiding or otherwise in a situation where the official certification is required, you may be better served by just taking a few classes offered by different organizations- to pick up how different people go about evaluating the snow. You may get more out of taking additional (generally cheaper) non certified classes (from experts) than a more expensive certified class.

At least, that is my take.

I assume you are referring to Level 1 courses? Or is that what you mean by certified?
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sh4d0w View Post


I assume you are referring to Level 1 courses? Or is that what you mean by certified?

 

I mean that the course is certified as an official AIARE level 1, level 2 etc. course.  There are lots of quality courses that are not officially sanctioned. This isn't to discount the value of said courses, but to say there is value in seeking out other knowledgable people giving similar classes.

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

I mean that the course is certified as an official AIARE level 1, level 2 etc. course.  There are lots of quality courses that are not officially sanctioned. This isn't to discount the value of said courses, but to say there is value in seeking out other knowledgable people giving similar classes.
Will the non-official courses still generally be referred to as "level 1" etc?
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sh4d0w View Post


Will the non-official courses still generally be referred to as "level 1" etc?

 

Not typically, although the material covered will usually be similar to a level 1 course.  Of course, quality can vary, but I was in a very good non-sanctioned course put on by a local hill ski patrol, with many of the instructors coming from avalanche mitigation work in Wolf Creek patrol, the Silverton avalanche school, and other places.  I got a lot out of it for a very modest price. For somebody not needing a "level 2" class to go on a resume, maybe this is another way to go.

post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

Not typically, although the material covered will usually be similar to a level 1 course.  Of course, quality can vary, but I was in a very good non-sanctioned course put on by a local hill ski patrol, with many of the instructors coming from avalanche mitigation work in Wolf Creek patrol, the Silverton avalanche school, and other places.  I got a lot out of it for a very modest price. For somebody not needing a "level 2" class to go on a resume, maybe this is another way to go.

Alright, I'll look into those as well. Thank you!
post #19 of 22
IMHO: finding a good mentor is more important than a class.
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

IMHO: finding a good mentor is more important than a class.

I think it's kind of equal. IME, the mentor will have a much easier time with mentoring if the acolyte (wink.gif) has the background provided by a class. And it's easier to tell if you have a good mentor if you have a class under your belt. Shocking, I know, but some people posing as mentors turn out to be full of crap.
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by tetonpwdrjunkie View Post

 Bruce Tremper finally convinced me to stop skiing telemark in the BC and helped me in the field to get my pit times down to under 15 minutes.  
What did Bruce have to say about skiing telemark in the BC that convinced you not to?
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post


What did Bruce have to say about skiing telemark in the BC that convinced you not to?

 

It was Bruce that was the last person to tell me, but I had heard it from other people like Theo Miners and most of the NAS instructors.  The issue is that the tele bindings that I like to use probably will not release in an avalanche.  The idea of my skis acting as both an anchor dragging me down and a lever twisting me up at the same time turned me off to BC Tele.   

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