Level Three

Level Three Backcountry Avalanche Forecasting & Advanced Training


This course is offered in partnership with The American Avalanche Institute (AAI) and is recognized by the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA).  This course is the highest level of formal avalanche training in the U.S.  The focus of this course is efficiency and mastery of skills.  Students should come to the course with good snow, weather, and avalanche observational skills. The course’s focus will be to advance the student’s knowledge base, mastery of skills, and efficiency in observation and analysis.  The course is a pass/fail course and students will be evaluated as to where they fall relative to industry standards.   Approximately half 60% of the course in classroom based and the other half40% is field based.  We will travel in the backcountry, in and around avalanche terrain.

Cost of the Course:  To Be Announced
Course Duration: 6.5 Days, January 25 - January 31, 2015
Tuition Includes: Instruction and instructional handouts.
Tuition Does Not Include: Round trip transportation to and from the class-site or accommodations
Location: Girdwood/Turnagain Arm

This course focuses on the following knowledge and skill sets:

  • Proficiency Mastery of single and multiple burial search techniques
  • Effective organized rescue techniques and leadership
  • Improved understanding of the snowpack formation and  metamorphism
  • Advanced avalanche mechanics including:
    •     Sintering following fracture
    •     Fracture initiation vs. propagation, and release
    •     The role of temperature on  avalanche triggering
  • Understanding, and accounting for, spatial variability
  • Strengths and limitations of stability tests for different weak layer types
  • Professional standard of recording data and record keeping – coached and evaluated
  • Creating personal/ professional and operational forecasts and nowcasts based on available information
  • Recognizing trends and patterns in stability
  • Efficient and accurate route-finding and group management in complex terrain
  • Human factors that influence decision-making as professionals and recreationists
  • In depth accident analysis



Don Sharaf, Tucker Chenoweth, Additional Instructors and industry guests to be announced.

Level 3 Course Requirements
• 40 hour Level 2 avalanche course
• Minimum of 1 season in between Level 2 and Level 3 course
• 20 documented tours in avalanche terrain
• 10 recent snow profiles
• Able to find 2 transceivers buried in a 30m x 30m area in 6  minutes

Recommended Reading: Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, by Bruce Tremper, The Avalanche Handbook, by McClung and Schaerer, Snow, Weather and Avalanches: Observational Guidelines for Avalanche Programs in the United States (SWAG), by the American Avalanche Association

Pre-course Level 3 CD (sent after you register) including:
• pre-course motivational letter
• course objectives and measures
• pre-course reading directly related to course presentations
• background reading related to course topics that will be useful references
• evaluation forms that will be used on the course by instructors and students