If you plan to go into the backcountry, you need to know how to identify avalanche terrain, mitigate the associated risks, and know how to properly use your avalanche gear. This Level 1 course developed by the American Alpine Institute will help you stay as safe as possible in the backcountry. After a self-paced expansive online course, join your expert local guides in Cottonwood Canyons for the weekend and during two field days, upgrade your preparedness and avalanche response skills.
This Hybrid Level 1 Avalanche Course is split into two components: the self-paced online learning component and the two-day field component. Once you register and pay, your online coursework can begin. Upon completion of the online component, you will then spend two-days in the backcountry with your instructors.
This digital course was developed by the American Avalanche Institute (AAI) and is framed around the Backcountry Avalanche Checklist. This Checklist is a systemic and proven approach to comprehensive decision-making in a complex backcountry environment. You work at your own pace and your guides will be available to respond to questions via email at all times.
The evening before your first outing, you will meet your guide via video conference call to answer any questions and ensure you are packed and ready. Field days will be two consecutive eight-hour days based in Big or Little Cottonwood Canyon. Together with your guide, you’ll cover an exhaustive set of avalanche preparedness skills.
The expansive online course includes:
- Instructional videos
- Extensive workbook with note outlines
- In-Depth Online Study Guide
- Comprehensive Quizzes
Field days include:
- Terrain assessment
- Safe travel
- Snowpack and weather
- Tour planning
- Field ops
- Stability test use and interpretation
- Rescue (beacon search, probing techniques, strategic shoveling and more)
What you get in this adventure:
- Expansive self-paced online learning course developed with the American Alpine Institute
- Live virtual seminar with expert Wasatch Mountain Guides instructors
- Two private in-depth field days in the backcountry
What’s not included:
- Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
- Trip insurance
- Food and snacks
In order to get the most out of this course, you need to have a moderate level of fitness. For the two field-days, you will be in the backcountry for eight hours each day practicing skills and safety rescue. All participants should feel comfortable on blue level resort runs, be able to manage controlled descents, and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.
Prerequisites: You need to be at least an intermediate skier seeing as you’ll need to be able to ascend moderate slopes using skins. All participants should be comfortable traveling in snow while carrying touring gear. You should also have an average level of fitness.
For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:
- Alpine touring skis, telemark skis or splitboard with skins (can be rented)
- Touring boots and poles (can be rented)
- Avalanche safety equipment (can be rented):
- Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
- Lightweight snow shovel
- Avalanche probe
For personal items, we recommend bringing:
- Ski goggles
- Warm hat
- Sun hat
- Lightweight gloves (for uphill)
- Midweight gloves
- Heavyweight gloves (for downhill)
- Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
- Lightweight base layer top
- Lightweight fleece jacket
- Softshell jacket with hood
- Puffy jacket with hood
- Lightweight baselayer
- Bottom softshell pants
- Ski straps (rubber voile style)
- Ski crampons (sized to fit your ski width and binding type)
- Water bottle and 1L of water
- Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
- Food you can eat on-the-go
- First-aid kit
- Blister kit
- Sunscreen and lip balm (SPF 50+)
- Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
- Camera — optional
All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent:
- Avalanche safety pack, including backpack, beacon, shovel and probe may be rented from your guide if needed
- Alpine touring or telemark skis and poles may be rented from Voile Retail Store
- Splitboards can be rented from Voile Retail Store
- Touring boots and helmets can be rented from Christy Sports
Ski rental locations are in Salt Lake City and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.
Group sizes and prices:
- For this avalanche training course, the max client to guide ratio is 4:1.
- Cost is per person and doesn’t decrease as the group grows.
Avalanche Courses in Wasatch Mountains can be arranged for private groups. Contact us to make arrangements and get 10% off for all private groups of 4 people.
Min. age requirements:
- Everybody over the age of 18 is welcome to book this backcountry skiing adventure.
- Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis.
If you plan to join with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
To get to Cottonwood Canyons in the Wasatch Mountains, most people fly into Salt Lake City International Airport. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle to the Canyons. SLC is less than 30 minutes away from the Big and Little Cottonwood Park and Ride Lots. Utah Transit Authority (UTA) offers Ski Bus with trips going up and down Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon each day.
Once you and your guide agree on the details of your backcountry field-days, your guide will suggest the best place to meet. The usual meeting points are Big or Little Cottonwood Park and Ride Lot, Alta or Brighton depending on the best conditions for learning. From there, you’ll head to your course.
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in the Wasatch Mountains, please refer to the State of Utah official website.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!