A Comprehensive Guide To Avalanche Safety

This course is designed specifically for recreational skiers and riders hungry to learn how to find the best snow, while avoiding avalanches. If you are interested in developing and refining your avalanche safety and backcountry traveling skills, then boom, you're in the right page.

Do you desire to:

  • Ski bigger lines deep in the backcountry?
  • Identify non-avalanche terrain for high hazard and low stress days?
  • Learn modern skills to make better decisions?
  • Identify what things can kill you, and minimize hazard exposure?
  • Be a vital asset to your ski touring partners?

If Yes, Then You Need These Skills:

  • Accurately digest the avalanche forecast and know where to ski that day.
  • Identify safer and more dangerous slopes.
  • Hold space for quality discussions with partners.
  • Quickly create digital backcountry tour routes plans.
  • Conduct and interpret key snow pit stability tests.
  • Understand how and when to do faster non-pit stability tests.

126 high quality video lessons

Broken up into bite-sized engaging videos that sink deep in your brain.

Join 1200+ students

Lots of happy skiers and splitboarders have completed this course.

Forever Access

No subscriptions. No time limits. Reference this course forever.

What sets this course apart

  • Get educated on your schedule.
  • Lessons taught by 12 different guides and ski pros.
  • Ask direct questions to Mark Smiley throughout.
  • Safe learning environment. Be bold with your questions.

Video Curriculum

Welcome To The Course
  • Welcome! Start Here (1:27)
  • Let's Get Started (1:13)
  • Scratch the Itch (3:59) Preview
  • What Makes These Snowy Death Traps (4:39)
  • Types of Avalanches
  • Avalanche Anatomy (4:40)
  • Colter Hinchliffe's Near Miss Story (7:54)
Part 1: 5 Foundations of Avalanche Education
  • Quickly Identify Avalanche Terrain (5:19)
  • Tech Tools to Measure Slope Angle (4:57)
  • Perform Self & Team Rescue (4:06)
  • Shovel Beacon Probe Pack...Gear Talk (11:06)
  • Understand the Current Conditions (6:02)
  • Understand the Avalanche Forecast Bulletin (18:18)
  • Start4 // String Together A Safe Ascent & Descent Path (8:06)
  • Start4+ // The Only Thing Truly In Your Control, Terrain (3:51)
  • Start5 // Group Management (6:44)
  • PreviewPartner Assessment Belt Ranking Rubric Preview
  • StartQuiz: Identify Avalanche Terrain

Part 2: I've Got 9 Avalanche Problems, But My Sitch Ain't One
  • Intro: 9 Avalanche Problems (0:54)
  • Loose Wet & Loose Dry: No Big Deal, Except When They Are (8:55)
  • Storm Slab Avalanches: Why Ski Patroller's Get To Throw Bombs (13:44)
  • Wind Slab Avalanches: This Problem Blows (8:13)
  • Persistent Slab Avalanche: The Funhog House Guest
  • Deep Persistent Slab Avalanche: The Sleeping Dragon (14:01)
  • Cornices: A Pissed Off Rattlesnake (13:28) Preview
  • Wet Slab Avalanches: The Fickle Trickle (1:11)
  • Glide Avalanches: Avoid The Brown Frown (1:05)
  • Potentially Lethal Non-Avalanche Hazards (2:00)
  • Vince Anderson Shares A "Near Miss" (5:54)
Part 3: A Day In The Life
  • The Order of Things
  • A Mountain Guide's Morning Avy Routine (31:21)
  • Beacon Check at the Car (3:33)
  • Red Flags: Mother Nature Screaming "Go Home" (4:37)
  • Reporting To Your Avalanche Center: R2D2 (8:14)
  • Real Life Example To Report (1:04)
  • Quiz: Route Finding
Part 4: Snow's Seasonal Trends
  • 3 Snowpack Climates with Vince Anderson (10:50)
  • Early Season: Snowpack (Oct-Dec) (6:48)
  • Mid Winter: Snowpack (Jan-March)
  • Spring Skiing: Snowpack (March-May) (3:32)
  • Spring Skiing: Good Snow is Aspect Dependent (3:49)
  • Spring Skiing: Timing Perfect Corn Snow (2:00)
  • Corn Snow: The Pursuit of Buttery Perfection (4:27)
  • Quiz: Understand Current Conditions
Part 5: Become A Better Ski Partner
  • Intro - Janelle Smiley (1:22)
  • Fear is Excitement Without Breath (7:12)
  • Hey, Lego My Ego! (3:50)
  • Let's Talk About Communication (3:23)
  • Share Your Expectations (3:50)
  • Know Thyself, Know Thy Partner (9:30)
  • Mentorship & Risk (15:01)
  • Quiz: Know Thyself Know Thy Partner
Part 6: Snow Pits - Making Sense of Test Pit Results
  • Intro: Why Digging Is Important (2:29)
  • The Stability Wheel: Organizing Pit Results (18:01)
  • The Stability Wheel: Written Description
  • Stability Test Progression (7:37)
  • Hand Shear Tests (5:34)
  • Nerding Out With Persistent Weak Layers (14:59)
  • Route Planning For Untracked Skiing (0:53)
  • Rescue Phases with Doug Workman (41:47)
  • Digging Best Practical Practices (10:16)
  • Rescue Scenario Example at Snowfall Lodge (7:09)
  • Rescue Debrief at Snowfall Lodge (6:47)
  • Quiz: Rescue
  • What's Next? (3:20)

Enroll Here

Digital Avalanche Course

Digital course on your own pace
  • Complete the course on your schedule. Use the video lessons as a reference for future refreshing.
  • You can ask Mark Smiley direct questions throughout.

Mark brings a different approach and humor to this course. In particular, I enjoyed learning about finding the best corn snow! Janelle’s portion about being a better partner is also particularly useful because it provides specific examples of ways to communicate with others. Thanks for the fresh take on avalanche education!

Ryan Teter

I am a few years past my Avy 2 class and I completed this program with my spouse/ski partner who is going into a Avy 1 class this winter. We both walked away with new knowledge and stoke for the upcoming season.

Travis Timer

Absolutely phenomenal. The wife and I learned a bunch and laughed the whole time doing it.

John via Instagram

Mark brings a different approach and humor to this course. In particular, I enjoyed learning about finding the best corn snow! Janelle’s portion about being a better partner is also particularly useful because it provides specific examples of ways to communicate with others. Thanks for the fresh take on avalanche education!

Ryan Teter

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do I have access to the course?

Forever - across any devices you own.

When does the course start and finish?

Right now. Your pace. Yours forever.

What if I want to take 'Pro Level 1' next year?

Tier 3 will check all the avalanche class prerequisites to get into a PRO 1 Level course.

Will I earn a certification from this course?

Tier 1: Certificate of Completion Tier 2: MTN Sense Digital Avalanche Certification Tier 3: MTN Sense Avalanche Certification

Is this course for splitboarders too?

Yes. The term "ski touring" encompasses everyone. It is used for simplicity of speech, not exclusion.

Can I ask Mark Smiley questions throughout the course?

Yes. Every video has a place where you can write in questions, and Mark will reply personally.

Meet your instructor
Mark Smiley

Mark Smiley's passion for adventure has taken him on 30+ expeditions on five continents. He and his wife, Janelle, are the only people that have attempted to climb all 50 Classic Climbs of North America (48 successfully). He was part of a team to set a world record skiing across the entire Alps Mountain Range (1100 miles and 292,000 vertical feet) in a mere 36 days.

His teaching style is fun, mellow and easy to understand. As an IFMGA Certified Mountain Guide, Mark is among the world's elite guides to reach this status. More important than this certification, is his candid style of conveying to you the best techniques that will help you the most.

Victor Caldua was a friend and mountain guide and father who died in an avalanche while climbing Alpamayo, Peru. He left behind a wonderful wife, Alicia, and two amazing and talented daughters, Vanessa and Estefani. 10% of the profit from this course will be gifted to Victor's family for their education expenses. Vanesse wants to be an engineer and Estefani wants to be a mountain guide.

Sept 22, 2022 Update: $8500 sent to the family, to help with school expenses. We committed to supporting their needs indefinitely. As more people enroll, their education prospects increase.

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