5 of the best avalanche awareness courses

Venturing off into the unknown this winter? Make sure you know what you’re doing with an avalanche awareness course

There’s not many things in the world that top the feeling of riding in the backcountry, but with all that fun comes big risk. Ensure you make informed decisions when riding off-piste this winter with one of these avalanche awareness courses. It could save your life.


SAAC run avalanche awareness courses around Austria. Their Basic camp, a two-day affair with both theory and practical elements, is free and they even have an English-speaking camp in Füssener Jöchle in February. Be quick though – places go fast! 



HAT offers Ride Hard Ride Safe talks around the UK in Autumn. The Essentials talk is a must for experienced off-piste skiers and newbies alike, focussing on how to manage the risk of triggering a slide in the backcountry. Tickets cost £12.50. HAT also runs beeper training sessions, so you can hone your search and rescue skills should the worst happen.


This two-day Avalanche awareness course aimed at tourers and freeriders mixes classroom and on-hill training aims to equip skiers to make more informed route choice when touring or freeriding. Based at Glenmore Lodge, Aviemore, it’s especially useful for skiers who spend most of their time in the Scottish hills. Prices start at £175.


Run by IFMGA mountain guides, this 2.5 day course offers a complete introduction to the avalanche phenomenon, avalanche terrain, decision making, and rescue. Based in Chamonix, it consists of around four hours classroom learning and 10-12 hours of field training for £195.



Jagged Globe offer the AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) Level 1 course in the Chamonix valley. Over four days, you will learn how to plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain, recognise avalanche terrain, describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain and learn and apply effective companion rescue. Prices TBC.

PHOTOS: Hansi Heckmair / Ortovox

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