This is a second article from the series on “How to start backcountry skiing and alpine touring?”.
As with anything new, we have two choices – learn it ourselves (with help from friends) or register for a course that is led by a true professional in its industry. In this case, the second option costs more money but the learning process is much faster and safer.
Recreational avalanche safety and backcountry travel courses are for novice backcountry skiers and usually take place over one or two days. Students are provided with hand-outs they can keep, and more importantly, with amazing knowledge that is lot of times gained only by experience. Therefore, make sure you sign up for a course that is certified by an appropriate organization in your country.
In Canada and United States this means various guiding companies that are certified (licensed) by the Canadian Avalanche Association or other appropriate authorities to teach these courses. Most of the companies that have mountain (and ski) guiding certifications are suitable.
The skills you will learn at such courses include:
recognizing avalanche terrain and danger
basic snow properties
basic avalanche search and rescue
backcountry travel in avalanche terrain based on your experience