5. Get Out of Harm’s Way
The second step of the Know Before You Go program is the KBYG Avalanche Skills eLearning Program
. This program is also free and consists of interactive learning content that does a deep dive into each of the five KBYG essentials. Coming out of the KBYG program you should be familiar with the essential avalanche safety gear, how to practice with it, and have an introduction to the avalanche forecast and travel.STEP 2:
Purchase or rent the proper gear. In avalanche terrain, it is important to always wear a beacon, and carry a shovel and probe in your backpack.
Think about other safety items that are essential as well. A first aid kit, extra gloves, hand warmers, an extra layer, food, water, etc.
The KBYG Get the Gear educational segment
will explain all you need to know about getting the proper gear.STEP 3:
Once you have completed the KBYG avalanche awareness program, you are ready for an
Introduction to Avalanches or Backcountry 101 class
. These are 1.5-day classes consisting of 4
hours of classroom and 8 hours of field-based education. In these classes, you will learn how do
avalanches form, what causes avalanches, how to read an avalanche forecast, how to identify
and avoid avalanche terrain, how to recognize weak snow in the snowpack, and more. To learn more about classes offered in Utah, visit the UAC's education page
After your backcountry 101 course, professionals recommend that you practice in the backcountry with friends you know and trust. Once you've practiced for a while and read the forecast each day, you'll soon realize there is a lot that you don’t know and you don’t
always understand some of the details of the forecast. So, now what do you do? This is where you enter
the official American Avalanche Association Recreation Track Curriculum consisting of a
Recreation Level 1, Avalanche Rescue, and Recreation Level 2 classes.
In addition to avalanche education, you need to consider your first aid skills.
If you do have a
backcountry accident (not just avalanche accidents), do you have the necessary first aid skills?
Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder classes will teach you the necessary skills
to be able to perform a successful backcountry rescue.
Avalanche education is a lifelong commitment. You don’t just take a class once and you are
done. You need to continually refresh your skills. You need to practice your rescue skills
regularly, improve your terrain management skill, and strive to better understand the
avalanche problems and how they affect the decisions you make and terrain you ski.
If you have any questions on avalanche education, contact the Utah Avalanche Center