Introduction to Avalanches (non-motorized)

Course description:

This course aims to help students recognize and understand obvious avalanche hazards through both classroom and field sessions. This course provides a brief introduction to avalanche statistics and human factors, avalanche terminology, avalanche terrain, snowpack and weather factors, trip planning and preparation, simple decision-making tools, and backcountry travel protocols. In the field session, students will gain an understanding of how a layered snowpack contributes to avalanching. Companion rescue techniques will also be covered, including the use of avalanche transceivers, shovels, and probes.

Overall goal:

Introduce students to a more in-depth understanding of avalanche hazard, terrain

The course outcomes:

  1. Recognize and avoid obvious avalanche hazard
  2. Understand and apply current avalanche advisories.
  3. Understand how the snowpack contributes to avalanching.
  4. Understand basic companion rescue.


One classroom session of 3 hours (virtual) and a field session of 7 hours.

Required Equipment:

Students are required to have a fully operational modern avalanche transceiver, an avalanche shovel (no plastic blades), and an avalanche probe. For the non-motorized class, you are required to have downhill (or backcountry) skis or snowboard with appropriate bindings. You do not need climbing skins.

The classroom portion (virtual) of the course on Thursday, February 4, 2021, will begin at 6:00 pm and last until 9:00 pm. It will take place virtually through a zoom presentation. The field portion of the course on Saturday, February 6, 2021, will take place at Whitefish Mountain Resort from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm. Cost for both the classroom and field session is $50.

This class is offered by Flathead Avalanche Center in partnership with Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC). 

Registration link:


Flathead Valley Community College
777 Grandview Drive
59901 Kalispell , MT
United States
Montana US
Event Date: 
Thursday, February 4, 2021 to Saturday, February 6, 2021