Advanced Avalanche Course:

Description and Content

A course for professionals and committed skiers with many years experience of off piste skiing, who would like to develop and formalise their understanding of the snowpack and avalanche awareness.

The objective of the course is to give the participant an in depth knowledge of snow structure, the process of change within it and, through field experience, develop recognition of snow pack stability and therefore confidence in ascertaining potential avalanche risk. After taking part in the week you should be more confident about travelling in the winter mountains, understanding what  avalanche hazard terrain is and make more informed decisions regarding route choice and avoidance of threatened areas.

The course is formatted to an internationally recognised standard and has been and adapted to the European Alpine Environment.

The course is intensive and rewarding; it has been attended by International Mountain Guides, ski patrollers, ski instructors, ski operators, ski film cameramen and enthusiastic and committed recreational skiers with a passion for travelling in the winter mountains and who wish to learn more.


The days start at approx 8.45am with lectures, followed by activities on the mountain on ski. Returning in the afternoon, we will summarise our field activities and continue with a lecture prior to finishing generally around 6 p.m.

The subjects covered during the 5 days will include:

  • Considering human and other factors in the process of decision making.
  • Snow crystal/grain types, how they develop and effect snowpack stability in a landscape.
  • Avalanche types and how they are triggered.
  • Route finding in avalanche terrain and hazard exposure evaluation.
  • How weather influences the snowpack.
  • Appropriate field observations to use when in the mountains.
  • Choosing locations for snow profiles and other methods of snowpack stability evaluation.
  • How to understand and interpret snowprofile information.
  • Developing an understanding of avalanche hazard evaluation and the European hazard scale
  • Self rescue systems and survival in avalanche situations.
  • The pre-planning process, mountain journey observations and key places decision making for determining safe travel when ski touring and free riding when in the mountains.


The course is certified and students  will be awarded a certificate  of attendance after demonstrating and understanding of the following subjects:

  • Gaining a sound understanding of the decision making process and avalanche hazard evaluation for a journey in the mountains.
  • Site choice for a snow profile, accuracy of data recording
  • Identification of crystal types, potential shear planes.
  • Interpretation of snow profile information and its relevance to avalanche hazard.
  • Accurate weather observation and its influence on the snowpack
  • Terrain evaluation, with respect to potential avalanche risk and route choice
  • Search and retrieval of two buried ‘victims’ in 30m sq. area using an avalanche transceiver and probe in a time limit
  • Accuracy and clarity of field book
  • Snow stability assessment and hazard evaluation using snow profile, snow history, weather forecasts and terrain observation etc.
  • Weather and snow observation in the study plot
  • Written examination

Equipment to bring

Downhill off piste skiing and ski touring will be undertaken during the week so bring the relevant equipment along with you. If you have them, please bring along the following equipment with you:

  • Avalanche transceiver
  • Snow shovel
  • 3m. avalanche probe
  • 8x stand magnifier (possible to purchase during course)
  • 2m rule and crystal screen(possible to purchase during course).
  • Ski Helmets recommended

Some items can be bought from resort.