Level 1 Avalanche Course January 22-24, 2010

After freshly being back from Aconcagua it was time to check out the local Sierra snow conditions. There is no better way to do that than to host an avalanche course. We offer these a few times each winter/spring. This was SMI’s first course of the year. It was taught by SMI founder Kurt Wedberg. Recent heavy snowfall made for high avalanche danger and lots of interesting snowpack observations.

Avalanche awareness is a very real and intregral part of safe travel in backcountry terrain during the seasons when snow is prevalent. SMI guides stay abreast on the latest in avalanche study and through these courses have the opportunity to pass it on to the students who attend them. A great time was had by all as we examined the causes of avalanches, their types and characteristics, what to look for in observing field conditions from weather to snowpack and avalanche activity, terrain selection, decision making, and much more. At the end of day 2 the class drew out a tour plan for us to follow on day 3. We also spent time learning rescue skills. We spent time getting familiar with avalanche transceivers and how to use them to find and rescue a buried person with an accompanying probe and shovel. At the end of our tour on day 3 we conducted a mock rescue of four people buried in an avalanche. A few pictures from the weekend are below. The entire photo album is here: http://kurtwedbergphotography.com/Sierra-Trips/2010-Sierra-Trips/Level-1-Avalanche-Course/11044954_KiyNt#772819836_sb8Fv

Conducting a “fine search” is the final of the 3-step process of searching for a buried person witih an avalanche transceiver.

Learning proper probing and shoveling techniques during avalanche rescue practice.

SMI founder Kurt Wedberg giving instruction on snow pack analysis and identification of weak layers after digging a snow pit specfically constructed to look at the profile of the snow.

A beautiful day for a backcountry tour. Part of the fun of this course is being able to experience the pristine scenery in the winter environment.

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