If you ski the backcountry, you must pursue avalanche education. To ignore avalanche risks is to put yourself and others in harms way.
This week, Salomon and Atomic launched Mountain Academy, an extensive online school meant to educate those who venture into the backcountry about avalanches.
Having recently taken the first day of my own Avalanche 1 course in Colorado, I was intrigued to learn more. While not meant to replace in-person, hands-on education, Mountain Academy is an inexpensive way to gain quite a lot of useful knowledge.
Online Avalanche Education
As noted, Mountain Academy is not meant to replace in-person courses. However, it is a first step in educating backcountry users and is produced in partnership with the Utah Avalanche Center, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, the Northwest Avalanche Center, the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, and the French National Association for Snow and Avalanche Study.
Mountain Academy is broken into two levels of coursework: Snow Safety Essentials and Deeper Into The Backcountry. Both courses are $29 and all proceeds go to the Mountain Academy Fund to help benefit forecasting centers and avalanche organizations around the world.
Both Salomon and Atomic coursework is identical.
Snow Safety Essentials
This intro level course covers the basics of backcountry snow safety. Designed as a primer for beginners or refresher for folks experienced with backcountry travel. Course One develops skiers’ awareness of the risks of traveling out of bounds, explaining the essentials about snow safety, necessary equipment, various dangers in the backcountry, and how to avoid them. It includes:
- 8 chapters, 60+ videos
- Practice questions to test your progress
- The course is desktop, tablet, and mobile-friendly
Deeper Into The Backcountry
Course Two gives skiers information they need to go deeper into the backcountry. It’s a continuation of Course One (which is recommended to complete first), and provides more in-depth information on types of snow, avalanche situations, and terrain characteristics seen when participating in backcountry travel.
The second course is similar in format to the first course, and has six chapters and more than 30 videos.
A Toe Into Snow Safety Education
The new coursework is intended as a first step into the world of snow safety education. Avalanches and snow science are complex subjects and “experts” regularly note that even they are still learning.
But this online course is an affordable first step toward acquiring the knowledge that will keep backcountry users safe.
“As Salomon and Atomic are developing more and more equipment designed to help people access backcountry terrain with greater ease, we think it’s crucial for us to also equip people with an understanding of the risks associated with backcountry skiing,” said Evin Catlett, senior digital marketing manager for Salomon and Atomic in the Americas. “We want to provide people with a way to start educating themselves and hope that as they advance through Mountain Academy, that it will only further their interest in increasing their knowledge, and drive them to sign up for an in-person snow safety class in their area.”
We love to see this new method of learning expanded to the world of backcountry safety. If you plan to travel in avalanche terrain this year, take a look and consider one of these courses.
If you have a buddy or loved one who seems resistant to avi training, this could be a perfect first step, and maybe a great option for a gift that will help them learn the skills to stay alive while enjoying the mountains to their fullest.