Level Two

Level Two Backcountry Avalanche Hazard Evaluation Course


The Alaska Avalanche School is a non-profit organization created for the purpose of promoting public safety in and around the mountain environment through education, research, publishing, and consulting. You have our commitment that we’ll provide you with the highest quality of training possible. What you learn during the workshop will depend upon how hard you work during and prior to the course. We’ll provide you with the opportunity, the tools, and the encouragement. The rest is up to you. Please read the following information carefully.

Cost of the Course:  $495.00 Per Person

Course Duration: 4 Full Days

Tuition Includes: Instruction, floor space within the Hatcher Pass Visitor Center and instructional handouts.

Tuition Does Not Include: Round trip transportation to and from the class-site, accommodations for the 2nd & 3rd night of the course, “The Avalanche Handbook” by McClung and Schaerer and “Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain” by Tremper, food and water for the duration of the course, all personal gear and clothing (see the Equipment List for more information).

Required Reading: “Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain” by Bruce Tremper

Recommended Reading: “The Avalanche Handbook” by McClung and Schaerer.



The purpose of this course is to enhance your skills in avalanche hazard evaluation, forecasting, and decision-making. Classroom sessions will focus on the development of unstable snowpacks including long lasting and deep slab instabilities, and some of the newer concepts in snow science.  In the field we will concentrate on snow stability evaluation techniques, detailed snowpack analysis, and documentation. We’d like to seek out recent avalanches so that we can investigate the contributory causes of fracture, but if there are no crown faces to be found, we’ll seek out a variety of snowpack conditions. The training will be intensive. This course consists of 40 hours of classroom and field training.

Program curriculum consists of:

  • Group rescue techniques
  • Beacon use
  • Beacon Park practice (EasySearcher) for multiple beacon searches
  • Terrain analysis
  • Snow stability evaluation
  • Decision making
  • Route selection
  • Safe travel procedures
  • Documentation of Pits
  • Forecasting
  • Snowpack Analysis



At least intermediate backcountry travel skills. Participation in a prior 3 day AAS Level 1 Course or equivalent and at least a year of experience since your Level 1 Course.


The first two days of the course are held in Hatcher Pass area and the second two days are held in the Girdwood/Turnagain Pass area.


Hatcher Pass:

AAS Students can take advanage of free 'camping' in the heated venue of the Hatcher Pass Visitors Center. Bring your sleeping bag and pad and enjoy the comfort of the center during the class dates. The Center provides: heat, electricity, water, microwave and coffee maker. This is the same building that the classroom sessions will be held each day. The center is open to AAS Students the night before your class begins, ensuring that you are on-site at 8:00 am for the start of the first day. Each Student is responsible for bringing their own food for breakfast, (field) lunch and dinner for the duration of the course. 

Girdwood / Turnagain Pass:

AAS Students will meet for classroom sessions at the Girdwood Community Center Classroom each morning. Because of the early meeting time we encourage all students to seek accomodation in Girdwood for the night. Please find a place to stay in Girdwood with friends or use one of the the following resources for housing:

Alyeska Hostel in Girdwood: 907-783-2222, Alyeska Prince Hotel 907-754-2111, Alyeska Accommodations (B&B's, Condos, Houses etc.) 907-783-2000

Each Student is responsible for supplying their own food for breakfast, (field) lunch and dinner for the duration of the course.



We expect a high level of commitment from Level II participants. Once you are registered, you will be tasked with several assignments to complete prior to the start of the course. 

1) Re-read any avalanche materials you have, especially Snow Sense, and Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain. Also recommended  is the Avalanche Handbook. Most importantly, drawing from your previous experience and reading there must be some things that are not clear to you. What are they? Jot down questions to which you would like answers. During the workshop we’ll work on answering these questions and hopefully raise a few more. We expect every participant to come with written questions.

2) If you haven’t practiced your rescue skills lately, what are you waiting for? Review your plan as a victim and plan as a rescuer, and practice beacon searches BEFORE the course.

3) Come to the course with a concise written snow stability synopsis of the conditions you expect to find in Hatcher Pass and Turnagain Pass. 

4) If you have a computer download snowpilot  from www.snowpilot.org. SnowPilot is a FREE software program that allows you to collect snow pit and avalanche occurrence data onto your PC, Mac or PDA. This data is then uploaded to a database on the web where others can view it and researchers can grab the raw data.  If you have a laptop please bring this with the snowpilot program to the first and second day of the course.

5) Get out and dig some pits! Draw between 5 and 10 pit profiles of your findings and bring them with you to the class. We want folks to have some personal experience documenting the snowpack.

6) Complete the pre-test included with the registraion information and bring to the first day of class.


Printable information sheet

Level 2 Brochure