R: Skylar Holgate P: @silvertonmtn

R: Skylar Holgate P: @silvertonmtn

Silverton, Colo. β€” Building upon the highly successful Practical Protocols for Snow Professionals/Steep Life Workshop that was provided by Silverton Mountain Guides in January 2015, Silverton Mountain Guides is introducing a new level of avalanche certification and training for experienced Ski/Snowboard Guides and Patrollers April 25-27, 2015 in Palmer, AK, at the Silverton Mountain Guides Alaska headquarters.

The traditional Avalanche Level 2 and 3 training curriculum simply has not kept up with the growth of guiding and patrolling in bigger mountains, expert terrain expansions and increased access to the mountains.  With the recent string of ski patroller and ski guide accidents, Silverton Mountain Guides continues to re-evaluate the way avalanche training, snow safety, guiding, patrolling, avalanche control, and mountain work is being taught.

In an effort to improve upon the existing Avalanche course curriculum framework and continue the evolution of mountain education, Silverton Mountain Guides has added an all new Advanced Avalanche Operations for Snow Professionals Program (AAOP).  This new avalanche certification is equivalent to an Avalanche Level 3, but more applicable to working Ski Patrol and Downhill Ski/Snowboard Guides that aspire to be a Lead Guide or Snow Safety Manager.  The AAOP program builds upon the foundation laid out during the initial Practical Protocols for Snow Professionals/Steep Life Workshop’s Steep Terrain Protocol Training by adding additional training modules, testing, and requiring continuing education to maintain the Avalanche Certificate.

Traditional Avalanche Level 3 training has historically had a very wide focus in order to cover the entire avalanche profession and forecasting industry. However, by using a shotgun approach, it has left many professional ski guides and patrollers wondering if an Avalanche Level 3 class and certificate will leave them with much more than a big hit to their wallet. The old Avalanche Level 3 process has traditionally been more focused on snow science data fields and geared towards regional avalanche forecasters and less applicable to those who run ski patrol and downhill ski guide operations (the people who manage the risks for their staff and guests).  The AAOP program follows the philosophy that guides need to spend time patrolling in order to see and learn from avalanches in action, and patrollers need to spend time guiding to develop their snow assessments without use of explosives.

In general, advanced avalanche coursework has become prohibitively expensive and time consuming making it less desirable for those already within the professional path.  Avalanche and guide education has become an industry of its own and at times appears to be focused on dollars as much as the education provided (with a Level 2 and 3 class costing a combined $2,100 or more).  Silverton Mountain Guides has split the process into cost effective modules, allowing more professionals to partake in the process. 

By attending the full AAOP program attendees will:

  • Gain a better understanding of how to read mountains,
  • Learn to skillfully recognize hazards,
  • Develop a thought process for working larger lines in steeper terrain, and
  • Understand the ins and outs of avalanche forecasting, weather, managing complex rescues, patrol/guide management and training, risk management, and advanced avalanche blasting.