Where is it? Who is it suitable for? What do I need?
The course venue will be decided closer to the time depending on snow conditions. However the initial meeting point will be at the Ogwen Valley Visitor Centre, Ogwen Valley, North Wales.
Meeting Point Google Map
Who is this course suitable for?
This 1 day snow pack study and avalanche awareness course is aimed at those who spend time in the mountains during winter conditions and is suitable for trainee winter mountain leaders, hikers, mountaineers, ski tourers, back country skiers and boarders. You should have the skills to travel safely on foot, with or without crampons, over a variety of terrain and snow types in mountain terrain; this is not a winter skills course for novices.
Instructors and Ratios
The course is delivered by WML and MIC qualified instructors, more importantly is their personal years of experience in the back country environment on foot and ski around the world. They also have many years experience of delivering winter specific training to military and SAR personnel including snow science, snow study, transceiver search, digging strategies for victim recovery, as well as attendance at International snow science events such as ICAR and the International Snow Science conferences.
What kit do I need?
Full winter kit for hiking in to the working area, packed lunch, hot drink, clothing to keep you warm while watching demonstrations, metal snow shovel, avalanche probe.
How long is this course?
We aim to spend a full day on the mountain, out at 09.00 and back by 17.30.
You will learn about applying the fundamental factors that influence snow pack and avalanche hazard:
Weather, past, present and forecast and Snow History
During the day you will learn about the Be Avalanche Aware guidelines developed by the Snow and Avalanche Foundation of Scotland (SAFOS). We will also make good use of the NIVO Test developed by Robert Bolognese, Founder of METEORISK and Blyth Wright, Scottish Avalanche Information Service.
We will also show you how to interpret the avalanche hazard forecast from the Scottish Avalanche Information Service
Also during the course we will cover the essential foundation level skills of snow pack formation, snow pack types and how each snow pack type has a different type of avalanche associated with it and what triggers an avalanche.
Snow pack study isn’t complete without having a repeatable set of test for finding weak layers and their depth in the snow pack, we will look at hasty pits, shovels tap test, and the important ECT, Extended Column Test.
Also covered will be map contour line spacing for slope angle in possible avalanche terrain and hazard identification. This may then have a direct impact on route choice on your mountain journey.
There is a lot more covered than could be included in this brief course description.
By the end of this 1 day course you will have gained knowledge and some essential experience of understanding the weather and avalanche forecast and be able to make an informed and educated decision about what areas on your mountain journey will have increased avalanche hazard and be able to avoid them as needed, or at worst be able to plan a slightly safer route through the hazard.
Maximum ratios on this course are 8 clients to 1 instructor.