Avalanche Education and Training

Avalanche Education & Training

The location, topography and climate of our beautiful San Juan and La Plata mountains place them at a higher risk for avalanches. We are lucky, however, to have a number of local resources available for avalanche training.

Awareness Training

At the most basic level, we are fortunate to have free awareness level training provided by the newly organized Friends of the San Juans. Sessions vary but generally include a two-hour avalanche awareness class, a half-day on-snow practice and a two-part rescue clinic. A list of these opportunities is presented below and details about times, locations, and registration are available at their website: https://www.thesanjuans.org/calendar .

Date Topic Location
Dec. 7, 2019 On-snow Session Molas Pass
Dec. 8, 2019 On-snow Session Molas Pass
Dec. 12, 2019 Avalanche Awareness Class Cortez
Jan. 8, 2020 Rescue Clinic Class Durango
Jan. 12, 2020 Rescue Clinic Field Course Molas Pass

Avalanche Beacon Procedures

Early in the season, SO! schedules one or more sessions for familiarizing members with operation of their avalanche beacons. This year Chris Blackshear has scheduled a session for December 15, 2019. See the Outings Schedule for details.

Certified Training

A full curriculum for developing knowledge and skills in avalanche safety has been developed by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). The first level of training for non-professionals is typically a three-day course that includes classroom and on-snow instruction. Two groups provide AIARE certified courses in our area and schedules, costs, and details of level 1, 2 and 3 courses can be found at their websites listed below.


In addition to the official textbook provided in AIARE training courses, a number of books on avalanche safety are available locally and on Amazon. Those listed below are ones with which we are familiar.

  • Jill A. Fredston & Doug Fesler, Snow Sense: A Guide to Evaluating Snow Avalanche Hazard (2011).
  • Allen O?Bannon, Allen & Mikes?s Avalanche Book: A Guide to Staying Safe in Avalanche Terrain (2012).
  • Bruce Tremper, Avalanche Essentials: A Step-by-Step System For Safety and Survival (2013).