The enrollment cap for each course is 20 students. The planned schedule appears below. (In NSP's level-1 curriculum, Module 1 is the classroom portion; Module 2 consists of field sessions.)
These courses do not assume any prior background in avalanche science or safety. The curriculum meets and exceeds standards established by the American Avalanche Association and includes the following topics:
1. Avalanche classification and nomenclature
2. The avalanche triangle: weather, terrain, and snowpack
3. Instability and avalanche release
4. Human factors
5. Personal safety
6. Rescue principles.
For people who have completed a level-1 avalanche course within the last 3 years, we will also offer a 1-day course in organized avalanche rescue, aimed at ski patrollers and search-and-rescue personnel.
The course hosted by the UW Outdoor Program will be open to UW students and employees and to local (MBNSP and SRSP) ski patrollers. This course will be available for registration through the UW Outdoor Program at the start of UW's spring semester, 8 am Tuesday 16 January. The course often fills on the first day. For further information, contact UW's Outdoor Program Director, Elise D'Alessandro, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The course hosted by Medicine Bow Nordic Ski Patrol will be open to the public. To reserve a spot, contact Myron Allen at email@example.com.
The courses starting 30 January and 13 February are identical in content. Both courses cost $75, subject to change. These fees help pay for teaching equipment and instructors' expenses. All instructors teach as volunteers. The course fee excludes textbook cost, trailhead parking fees, and whatever fee the UW Outdoor Program charges. The textbook is Bruce Tremper's Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain (3rd edition), published by The Mountaineers Books. Read it before the course if you can.
All students must arrange their own transportation to classroom sessions (in Laramie, Wyoming) and field sessions (in the Snowy Range backcountry of Wyoming and possibly Cameron Pass in Colorado). Students must be in excellent physical condition, experienced with and capable of over-snow travel at elevations up to 11,000 feet above sea level.
To participate in any of these courses, you must register through the National Ski Patrol, a process that is currently available to nonmembers at no additional charge. Instructors will provide information on how to do this as the course dates approach.
For both the National Ski Patrol and the UW Outdoor Program, safety is by far the highest priority. We will teach, model, and require safe travel practices in avalanche terrain and follow industry-standard risk-management protocols. The lead instructors have spent many years building avalanche expertise, through rigorous formal training, extensive backcountry navigation in avalanche country, carefully mentored teaching, and personal adherence to safe backcountry travel practices. Nevertheless, travel in the mountains involves inherent risks. Both NSP and UWOP require that all participants sign liability waivers. Also, in the interest of safe travel on roads and in the backcountry, instructors may change the field-session locations depending on weather and avalanche forecasts. We will discuss any changes of this type, including the decision-making criteria and communication protocols, in class.
Module 3, an optional 1-day field course with Modules 1 and 2 as prerequisites, focuses entirely on rescue techniques, building on material covered in Modules 1 and 2. There is a separate fee for this course. We'll discuss details of Module 3 during the level-1 courses.