Avalanche Stage 1 is a nationally recognised training programme designed for people wanting to work or already working in an alpine environment

This is a nationally recognised training programme is designed for people wanting to work or already working in an alpine environment. Graduates have gone on to employment in a range of activities where avalanche risk management was an integral aspect of their job, including ski patrol, guiding (climbing, ski, snowboard, trekking), ski/snowboard instructing, heli-skiing, road management, cat-skiing, hunting, Department of Conservation, Search and Rescue, and alpine skills instruction.

The dates for this residential avalanche course are 27 August - 02 September 2018 and will take place at the Levin-Waiopehu Lodge, Whakapapa Skifield, Mt Ruapehu. It is aimed at people involved in professional or advanced recreational alpine activities. Staff deliver intensive and thorough training, fundamental skills to manage avalanche risk will be assessed.

At the completion of this course, students will have improved decision making skills to minimise travel risk, improved personal safety awareness, and be able to: 

  • improve decision making skills to minimise travel risks
  • recognise avalanche terrain and identify safe route selection
  • understand the formation and classification of avalanches
  • identify and record current weather conditions
  • identify and interpret snow crystals and structures
  • carry out snowpack analysis and record snow profiles
  • contribute to an avalanche search and rescue operation
  • improve personal safety awareness

For more information contact Mark Cowley
Phone: 04 298 0205 ext 4223
Email: mark.cowley@whitireia.ac.nz

Candidate Selection

Once requirements are met, selection is on a first come first in basis. A $300 non refundable fee is required to hold a place on the course along with the required enrolment form.

Skiing/Boarding competence

Field work will be undertaken on skis/boards. As the ski field may not be operating during these field trips, touring skis/boards and skins are desirable, although hiking with them is OK.

Course members need to be able to ski/board at an intermediate skill level.

Equipment Requirements

Below is a list of the equipment required:

  • sleeping bag
  • lodge clothing
  • snow/mountain boots (for use to and from and around the lodge)
  • 30-45l touring pack
  • mountain/ski clothing
  • touring skis and skins or snowboard (hiking with skis/board OK if you don’t have touring gear)
  • head torch
  • transceiver (+ spare batteries)*
  • probe (2.3m+)*
  • shovel – metal blade*
  • saw – 35cm blade e.g. pruning saw *
  • compass
  • crystal grid card *
  • thermometer – digital recommended *
  • folding ruler -2m plastic *
  • magnifying lens -8x or 10x *
  • ice cream stick (20)
  • altimeter (optional)
  • inclinometer (optional)
  • pencil (2) , pens, eraser, highlighter, note taking paper

*hireage available by prior arrangement

Additional Costs

Accommodation is provided for the night before the course commencement until the end of the course. This includes breakfast and dinner. Lunch is to be provided by the course members. Note that this will be in the field most days

If you have season ski passes please bring it. Single ride passes ($30) will need to be purchased during field work days for those without season passes.

Study Preparation

It is strongly advised that you make yourself familiar with the course textbook and New Zealand Mountain Safety Council guidelines for weather, snowpack and avalanche observations. These will be posted out to you 2-3 weeks prior to the course.

Course textbook: Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper

Other recommended readings: Avalanche Awareness in the New Zealand Backcountry by Penny Goddard

Entry Requirements

Must be able to demonstrate the ability to use an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe.

Provide an Avalanche Transceiver Competency Certificate. This form to signed by a Stage 1 or 2 holder verifying that the candidate has meet the industry standard for finding a transceiver within the area, depth and time-frame parameters.

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