The Digs on Avalanche Classes
The demand for avalanche education has literally exploded in the Bozeman area. There are now numerous courses to choose from depending on experience and interest.
For the novice, the Friends of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC) offers several one-hour avalanche-awareness talks around southwest Montana, as well as a more in-depth MSU Avalanche Awareness class composed of two evening lectures and one field day.
As a next step, the Montana Outdoor Science School (MOSS), Montana Backcountry Adventures, and the American Avalanche Institute (AAI) all offer Level 1 Courses, which are a 24-hour courses consisting of 40% lecture and 60% field time. These organizations follow American Avalanche Association guidelines. MOSS also offers a Level 1 Refresher Course, which is 11 hours.
AAI offers a Level 2 Course for folks who have backcountry experience and want to understand the snow pack and the science behind it. This is a 32-hour course, 60% of which is field time.
For contact information, dates, and details on any of these courses, go to mtavalanche.com (the education calendar page) and/or check the O/B winter calendar of events. Get educated by taking a course, and encourage your skiing partners to take it with you.
Angela Patnode is a Professional Member of the American Avalanche Association. She instructs avalanche classes in and around the Bozeman area.