Avalanche Courses

Learn essential skills and knowledge

Learn simple steps you can take to stay safe and have fun in avalanche terrain. This engaging presentation is grounded in the Know Before You Go Program. Join us at watering holes and other venues across the Flathead Valley in November, December, and January.

Free, no registration needed. Open to all recreationists. All events begin at 6 p.m.

2023/24 Dates:

Bias Brewing, Kalispell, November 13
Stonefly Lounge, Coram, November 29
Koocanusa Brewery, Eureka, December 7
Andy’s Crafthouse, Bigfork, December 12
Penco Power Products, Kalispell, December 20
Great Northern Cycle & Ski, Whitefish, January 11

Host a private session for your employees as a corporate sponsor. 

This course is an opportunity to get your hands in the snow and gain familiarity with essential concepts and practices for travel in avalanche-prone terrain. With a midweek evening classroom session and a weekend field day, this course offers 11 hours of instruction time. We will cover avalanche terminology, identifying avalanche hazards, snowpack and weather factors, trip planning and preparation, simple decision-making tools, backcountry travel protocols, and companion rescue techniques.

Course Fee: $100

Motorized users, get your course fee fully reimbursed through the Flathead Snowmobile Association.

2023/24 Dates:

Human-Powered, January 18 and 20
Motorized, February 1 and 3
Ladies Human-Powered, February 1 and 3
Human-Powered, February 22 and 24
Human-Powered, March 7 and 9

Evening sessions are on Thursdays at FVCC from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday sessions are in the field from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Human-powered field days will take place at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Locations for motorized field days are TBD on the Flathead National Forest. Information and directions will be provided to students before the course date.

Are you confident in your ability to rescue your backcountry partners in the event of an avalanche? These skills are perishable and important to practice every winter, as well as throughout the season. During the morning portion of this clinic, you will rotate between stations practicing the three key pieces of rescue gear: beacon, shovel, and probe. In the afternoon, we’ll put your skills to the test with a mock companion rescue, including a debrief.

Course Fee: $65

Motorized users, get your course fee fully reimbursed through the Flathead Snowmobile Association.

2023/24 Dates:

Human-Powered Ladies, December 16
Motorized, January 6
Human Powered Refresher, January 13
Human-Powered, February 17

Human-powered field days will take place at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Locations for motorized field days are TBD on the Flathead National Forest. Information and directions will be provided to students before the course date.

Develop essential skills for snowmobiling in avalanche terrain including trip planning, hazard management, group communication, and terrain choice. This curriculum is designed specifically to meet the needs of motorized users. Offered with The Mountain Riding Lab.

Course Fee: $400 

Motorized users, get your course fee fully reimbursed through the Flathead Snowmobile Association.

2023/24 Dates: January 23-28

Classroom sessions (evening Zoom): Tuesday, January 23 and Wednesday, January 24
Field sessions: Saturday, January 27 and Sunday, January 28

Evening sessions are on Thursdays via Zoom from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday sessions are in the field from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Locations TBD on Flathead National Forest. Information and directions will be provided to students before the course date.

Looking for a human-powered Level 1? Visit our friends at The Patrol Fund and The Mountain Guides Montana.

Advance your decision-making and avalanche hazard management skills with more field time and deeper study. This course is for motorized users who have had at least a year of backcountry experience since taking their Level 1. Gain understanding in more technical topics as well as competence in application. Over the course of three field days, you will practice field observations, snowpack evaluation, terrain assessment, group communication and more. Visit Flathead Snowmobile Association for information on scholarships.   

Not offered in 2023/24

Looking for a human-powered Level 2? Visit our friends at The Patrol Fund and The Mountain Guides Montana.

Throughout the season, we offer a number of other opportunities for continued learning about avalanches. We kick off the season every November with the Northern Rockies Snow & Avalanche Workshop, an afternoon of presentations from experts in geophysical sciences, behavioral sciences, and more. Throughout the season, we host evening Topics Workshops, one-off deep dives on a single subject. State of the Snowpack is a quick, 15-minute summary about current conditions from the Flathead Avalanche team (often combined with other events). Fireside Chats are a conversational forum for debriefing recent near misses and sharing lessons learned with the community. In February, we host Flathead Avalanche Friends Fest, a multi-day event with opportunities to connect with community, learn about snow, and support our safety mission. In January, February, and March, we also help the Flathead Nordic Backcountry Patrol put on Hot Dog Days beacon clinics at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

UP NEXT: We’re all wrapped up for the 2023-24 season. See you next winter!

Education Partners