Avalanche and Snow Science Workshop.
Putting theory into practice.

Date: 18th to 22nd January 2021, 5 days

Certificated by Swiss Mountain Training levels 1 & 2 and run in collaboration with the European Avalanche School.

Designed for active ski tourers, off piste skiers and snow boarders.
This is a comprehensive 5-day course to prepare the student for independent travel in avalanche terrain. We examine the avalanche phenomena and how by careful risk assessment we can minimise our exposure to the avalanche.
A notable addition to this course is that we look in depth at the snowpack and how to document and analyse the snow. This knowledge enables us to have a deeper understanding of the snowpack and gives us the tools to continue to learn about the developments of the snowpack.

Venue: Leysin, Switzerland. 18th to 22nd January 2021, 5 days.

Ratio: 1:4 (minimum) 6 (maximum) students per instructor.

Cost: CHF895 (not included: cancellation and medical insurance, accommodation and ski pass).

Programme (Presentations in bold)

Day 1.

Introduction: experience/ expectations of students. Course aims and outline.

Theory
Case study- setting the scene
The avalanche phenomena –
unstable snow types, slope, trigger
Avalanche Rescue. Essential rescue theory and equipment.
Rescue video

Fieldwork

Transceiver check protocol

Observations re. avalanche hazard evaluation.

Terrain: estimating slope angles

Avalanche rescue practical: Single and multiple burials. DVA search, probing and shovelling.

Review

Companion rescue procedures. Discussion: other specialist equipment, ABS and the human factor.
Avalanche and weather bulletin.

Day 2.

Theory
Weather observations and their relevance to avalanche hazard.
European Avalanche Hazard scale, interpreting avalanche bulletin/ weather forecast
Assessment and decision framework 3X3. White risk app and web resources.
Understanding basic snow science
Planning and preparation

Fieldwork

Key avalanche hazard observations. Are conditions as you expected?

Group management: Transceiver/equipment check. Organisation on/off piste. Group dynamics.

Snowpack analysis and snow stability tests (compression/ shear tests) NB spatial variability

Review
Plot snow profile and summarise data. Discussion: How does this fit into the bigger picture?

Planning: Avalanche bulletin and weather forecast.

Day 3.
Theory
Weather Systems and Snow characteristics – maritime & continental climates, seasonal progression of snow, effects of climate change
Avalanche terrain, recognising avalanche start zones, paths and runout zones.
Heuristic traps
Planning and preparation overview

Field work
Group and risk management
Further snow profile and stability tests

Review.

Snow profile analysis and avalanche risk forecast for the next day
3×3 planning for the next day: Avalanche bulletin & weather forecast. Information from mapping, guidebooks, local knowledge.

Day 4.

Theory
Planning and preparation


Fieldwork –
SKI TOUR practical application of 3×3 decision making framework.

Local evaluation: weather observations, visibility, warning signs, avalanche problems? Terrain and human factors? Is the tour appropriate? Revise plan if necessary.


3×3 checklist on arrival and on each slope. Conditions, terrain, human factors. Do assumptions match reality?

Review

Trip evaluation: were there any surprises? Anything you would do differently next time?Planning for off piste skiing day: Avalanche bulletin & weather forecast. Information from mapping, guidebooks, local knowledge.

Day 5.

Theory
Planning and preparation
Rescue video review

Fieldwork – OFF PISTE practical application of 3×3 decision making framework.

Local evaluation: weather observations, visibility, warning signs, avalanche problems?
Terrain and human factors? Are our planned runs appropriate? 
Rescue scenario

Review/debrief

Tour and rescue evaluation.
Course debrief.