As avalanche season in Colorado begins, now is a great time to be touching upon avalanche safety skills.
A number of great free online resources have blossomed in the past few years. There are too many to list them all, but this article will point you to a few that have a solid basis and comprehensive content to kick-off your ski season or touch up those skills mid-season. Before I go on, to really apply your decision-making when traveling in avalanche terrain—you need to get hands-on training that is outdoors and includes guided skills practice as well as mentored application of route planning and safer travel. For this type of training, check out an avalanche level 1 class given in your local community.
To help you prepare for your level 1 class, or to provide a refresher after you have taken your level 1 class, check out these resources:
Know Before You Go www.kbyg.org – by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and the Utah Avalanche Center.
This program has two main components. The first is a 60 to 90 minute Know Before You Go (KBYG) avalanche awareness presentation given by a trained KBYG instructor that is often offered at various outdoor shops in the evenings. It is a good introduction to what to consider for safer traveling in the regions that could have avalanche terrain. It was originally developed to reach the high school age demographic, however, the content is suitable for those of us well beyond our teen years.
The second part of the KBYG offering is a free online eCourse consisting of 5 quality learning modules. The modules have good graphics, interactive learning, and good videos. The topics follow the KBYG points of “Get the Gear, Get the Training, Get the Forecast, Get the Picture, and Get Out of Harm’s Way.”
AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) Online Learning: https://aiareonline.org
AIARE is an educational organization that creates research-based education programs for avalanche safety for both the backcountry recreationist and the avalanche professional. The courses are a combination of classroom and field training. They include a good online study module (https://www.aiareonline.org ) designed to be completed before a student takes the field-based courses. Also check out the Educational Resources page (https://avtraining.org/educational-resources/ ) for a list of great videos, podcasts, and articles for the backcountry traveler.
A nice supplement to the AIARE learning is this article on winter navigation: (https://coloradowildernessridesandguides.com/backcountry-skiing/top-winter-navigation-tips/ ).
Avalanche Canada Training Course: https://www.avalanche.ca/tutorial
Our neighbors to the north have long had a solid avalanche education program and this free online training website continues its quality program. A small portion of the content is Canada-specific, but overall the content applies to the U.S. mountains and is well worth your time checking it out.