Get Out There

A roundup of free online backcountry safety clinics, webinars and tutorials

 | October 19, 2020

Refresh winter skills with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and Avalanche Canada before heading back out on your skis, snowshoes, or snowmobiles this winter season.

File Photo.

The Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and Avalanche Canada both have numerous online mountain safety clinics, webinars and training tutorials to help winter backcountry users stay safe this upcoming season.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, typical mountain safety clinics and seminars hosted by the groups have moved online, making it easier for skiers, split borders, snowshoers, mountaineers, ice climbers and sledders to refresh their backcountry knowledge and avalanche training skills before heading into dangerous backcountry avalanche terrain. 

ACMG Mountain Safety Clinics

The ACMG hosted free mountain safety clinics via Zoom earlier this month and recordings of those clinics are now available on their website. Click the link and scroll down to the clinic content that you are interested in or click the links below.

The online clinics were created to help adventurers enjoy safer mountain activities and includes a backcountry equipment Zoom recording which covered how to properly fit ski boots and choose backcountry equipment including transceivers, communication devices and bindings. 

The ACMG also hosted a general mountain safety clinic which covered winter trip planning, avalanche bulletins and other resources, which were presented by ACMG/International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA) certified mountain guide Chris Miller, backcountry emergency management presented by ACMG/IFMGA mountain guide and parks alpine specialist Mike Koggang, and communication devices for the backcountry presented by ACMG/IFMGA mountain guide Tom Wolfe.

Avalanche Webinar Series

Avalanche Canada will be hosting hour long weekly webinars throughout the 2020/21 winter ski season starting at 7 p.m. from Oct. 21 until March 11. All webinars will be recorded and accessible from avalanche.ca after the event for those who are unable to attend the live session.

To register for the event and see the webinar schedule, visit the events page on Avalanche Canada’s website and register for your chosen event. Event registration links will be updated on this page throughout the season.

This week’s seminar ( Oct. 21) will be hosted by forecaster Grant Helgason, who will guide webinar participants through all the resources found on avalanche.ca, including the Mountain Information Network reporting and interpretation of the reports, weather resources, bulletins and more of the website features to help prepare winter backcountry users for a season travelling in avalanche terrain. 

Subsequent webinars will include avalanche case studies, specific tips for ice climbers, snowmobilers, snowshoers, and skiers, terrain choice and many other topics surrounding avalanches and backcountry risk assessment and mitigation.

Online Avalanche Tutorials

Avalanche Canada has free online avalanche tutorials to introduce the basics of recreational avalanche safety for all kinds of winter backcountry users before venturing into avalanche terrain. These tutorials are not meant to replace an in person, hands-on avalanche safety training course. Avalanche safety training courses happening in your area can be found here.

Topics in the online tutorial include understanding the principles of avalanche formation, avalanche types, avalanche danger, recognizing avalanche terrain, pre-trip planning and how terrain can affect danger, one of the most important skills to learn and refresh before travelling in avalanche terrain.

Specific chapters within the online tutorial are avalanche formation, terrain, pre-trip planning, reducing risks in the field, rescue and avalanche incident reporting.

This course also includes how to share avalanche field observations with others and the latest advancements and updates in search and rescue techniques designed to increase the speed, accuracy and simplicity of companion rescue.

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