Avalanche – Level 2

Leadership In Avalanche Terrain – Analyzing Snow Stability And Avalanche Hazard

The Level 2 course is a 4-Day 30-hour program that provides backcountry leaders the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills. 

The Level 2 builds from the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in the Level 1 and adds to it the evaluation of factors critical to stability evaluation and terrain selection.

Equipment List

Required equipment for all Avalanche Courses is provided on our Equipment List page.

Student Prerequisites

Participants must have previously completed a Level 1 Avalanche Training and an Avalanche Rescue Course. At least one year since the participant’s Level 1 course is recommended before taking the Level 2. Must be capable of a full day of traveling to, in and around avalanche terrain for multiple days in a row at elevation. Physically fit enough to carry a 20 lbs. pack, while skiing uphill and downhill in variable snow and weather conditions. It is strongly recommended having a WFA or higher medical training.  

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Gather and prioritize information relevant for describing how seasonal weather has affected the snowpack process and current snowpack structure.
  • Create an avalanche hazard assessment without a local bulletin.
  • Describe, create and implement a framework for planning, decision making and risk management in consideration of leading a group in avalanche terrain.
  • Practice travel and terrain mitigation techniques under supervision with feedback in a variety of avalanche terrain situations. 

Instructional Sessions

40 Hours including both Class and Field Instruction

Energy Balance

The mountain snowpack and metamorphism

Faceting

Near surface and near crust faceting

Surface Hoar

Formation of surface hoar and persistent weak layers

Skier Triggering

Formation of surface hoar and persistent weak layers

Information Gathering

  • Site selection and relevancy
  • Spatial variability
  • Slope tests

Companion Rescue

  • Level 1 techniques review
  • Multiple burial
  • Shovel techniques

International and national snow, weather and avalanche observation and recording guidelines (SWAG)

  • Weather; interpreting forecasts, recording and observation techniques
  • Snow profile techniques and bonding tests
  • Avalanche observations and recording techniques
  • Stability analysis checklist: reviewing critical factors
  • Stability ratings
  • Daily stability forecasts and analysis

Trip Planning and hazard forecasting for avalanche terrain

  • The avalanche danger ratings
  • Terrain analysis using maps/photos
  • Forecasting stability and variability

Terrain Selecting And Route Finding

  • Group management and hazard management
  • Decision making
  • Human factors