Advanced Avalanche Rescue Course
As a backcountry traveller, maintaining proficiency in the art of companion rescue, specifically transceiver searches, requires formal training and constant practice. It’s easy to fall victim to complacency, and unless you’ve practiced this season your skills are probably rustier than you think.
This course offers an opportunity to brush up on these skills, while learning advanced methods including multiple burial techniques.
Be prepared for a full day in the elements. Dress warm, bring extra gloves, and we recommend a thermos of hot coffee or tea.
We meet at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center and carpool up the Hurricane Ridge road. We’ll get geared up and travel to our training site where we’ll spend the day.
To start off we’ll review companion rescue at the AIARE Level 1 standard – single burials using basic scenarios that emphasize the transceiver search itself.
As we progress we’ll discuss multiple burials using advanced techniques including the micro grid, three-circle method, special function (Tracker), and advanced mark functions.
In the afternoon we’ll bring it all together with a full companion rescue scenario.
Need rental gear? Transceivers, shovels, and probes are available for avalanche students to use free of charge, but please make arrangements with us in advance. Information on where to rent other equipment (such as AT or tele gear) is available on our Rental Gear page.
METHOD OF WINTER TRAVEL
☐ Options: skis (AT or tele), splitboard, or snowshoes*: Should be suitable for uphill and downhill travel.
☐ Boots: AT or tele boots, snowboard boots, or winter boots suitable for snowshoeing.
☐ Poles: Adjustable recommended.
☐ Climbing skins: For AT, tele, and splitboard setups.
* Note: Cross country ski gear will not work for this course.
AVALANCHE SAFETY GEAR
☐ Transceiver: Modern, single frequency [457 khz] transceiver, preferably less than five years old. A digital 3-antennae model is highly recommended (ex: BCA Tracker 2, Mammut Pulse Barryvox, Peips DSP).
☐ Shovel: Lightweight avalanche shovel. A metal blade is recommended (avoid plastic), as well as an extendable handle (ex: G3 Avitech, BCA Companion EXT).
☐ Probe: Dedicated probe, ski pole probes are not sufficient.
☐ Daypack: 25-40 liters, should have some form of ski/board attachment system.
There are many possible layering combinations for your upper body. Use the following recommendations as guidelines:
☐ Baselayer top: Light to medium weight synthetic fabric (ex: Patagonia Capiline 1 or 2).
☐ Lightweight insulating layer: Light fleece or synthetic layer (ex: Patagonia R1 Hoody).
☐ Softshell or shell jacket with hood: For wind, snow, rain, cold, etc.
☐ Puffy (insulated) jacket: Synthetic or down, preferably with a hood (ex: Patagonia Micro Puff).
☐ Baselayer bottoms: Light to medium weight (ex: Patagonia Capiline 2).
☐ Ski pants/bibs: Hard shell or softshell.
☐ Socks: Wool or synthetic, they should work well with your ski boots. Keep in mind that warmth comes from good circulation, not heavy socks.
☐ Warm hat
☐ Sun hat: Baseball cap/visor (weather dependent).
☐ Face protection: Buff® recommended.
☐ Light gloves
☐ Ski gloves
☐ Sunscreen: SPF 30 or greater, avoid spray on (ex: Doc Martin’s of Maui).
☐ Lip balm: With SPF protection.
☐ Water bottles(s) or hydration system: Water bottles should have a screw top (no bike bottles); hydration system should have an insulated tube.
☐ Thermos (optional)
If you have any of the following items, please bring them:
☐ Ski strap
☐ Repair kit: We suggest carrying a small repair kit with items specific to your ski or splitboard equipment. Extra binding parts (including mounting screws), an extra tip loop for your skins, an extra pole basket, etc. Other great MacGyver items are bailing wire, zip ties, and duct tape.
☐ Watch: Altimeter recommended.
• To get the most out of this course, we recommend that participants have attended an AIARE Level 1 or Level 2 course in the last two years, although a non-AIARE course will suffice.
• Note: This course is solely focused on companion rescue — the second half of the equation in “Plan For The Best, Prepare For The Worst.”
- Guiding & instruction
- Food, lodging & transportation
- Park entrance fee (free with a park pass or $5/person)
WHERE TO MEET
Olympic National Park Visitors Center in Port Angeles, WA. Participants will receive an email the week before the course with final logistics.
Option A: Fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. From here the drive to Port Angeles takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Option B: Fly into Port Angeles. Kenmore Air flies daily from Sea-Tac and is an Alaska Airlines partner (domestic flights can be booked with Port Angeles as the destination).
Many options exist in Sea-Tac. There’s also a Budget Rent-A-Car in Port Angeles.
Many options exist in Port Angeles including hotels, bed & breakfasts, and hostels.
Check out our Weather & Avalanche Resources page.
- Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper.
- Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering by Martin Volkin, Scott Schell, and Margaret Wheeler.
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