I am wondering, does anybody know of good resource for the avalanche forecasting course and/or internet resource. I understand that reading alone gets you nowhere in terms of any practical skills (one need to get out on the snow multiple times), but at least I would appreciate a good starting reading. 




Hey @Dmitry - Great question!

Can you remind me what area you are in or where you are planning to backcountry ski? I'm reaching out to some of our ski experts and that may be useful for any suggestions they might be able to pass along.


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

Hi @REI-CarterC 

I live in Bay Area, and for logistical reasons plan to focus on skiing/touring in the area of Dodge Ridge ski resort (and are around it, e.g., Pinecrest trails, Bell Mt., etc), Bear Valley ski resort, and Yosemite/Crane Flat area.

This area (with the possible exception of the Bear Valley) is not covered by any of the avalanche centers. There is not much avalanche terrain in there, at least readily accessible by public from any reasonable parking lot or sno-park, so this could be a good opportunity for making snowpack tests, beacon search practices and attempts for prediction of the snow conditions. 

There is a number of the SNOTEL sites to the east of the Dodge Ridge ski resort that line up along north-south line; theoretically, they can provide useful information for the purpose of the forecasting or at leas estimating of what to expect.

I found an online course  (or, rather, course materials) on the subject, it would be interesting to hear the opinion on that from more experienced tourers (enthusiasm or not, I am still a beginner in the backcountry skiing).






Hi @Dmitry - this is a great question, and such an important topic when recreating in the backcountry!

There are two resources that I would recommend looking into:

1. The American Avalanche Association - On the "education" section of their web site, you can find lots of online resources, as well as find in-person courses in your area. This website is also a great resource for locating your local avalanche center and finding current and future avalanche forecasts.

2. The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) - In the "Resources" section you will find some great videos and tutorials. This website is also a great resources for finding high-quality in-person avalanche education in your area.

And as you stated in your post, online resources are a wonderful starting point, but in-person avalanche instruction is the best way to learn, fine-tune your skills, AND stay safe. 

I hope this helps! Stay safe and happy trails!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.


AIARE classes are definitely the way to go if you are going to be any skiing, snowshoeing, hiking in mountains with snow present.

There are some great resources to wrap your head around a lot of the risk before taking a class though.

This book that you can get on the REI website

This free Avalanche awareness class on YouTube from NWAC

Or Mark Smiley's online course ($250) 

Hope this helps! 🙂 


Hi @djcrusoe0929 

Thanks for your input, especially  for the Youtube avalanche awareness class, I did not know about it. I had Avy 1 course two years ago, and was mostly wondering about the forecasting course or materials, i.e. to estimate the conditions based on the SNOTEL and nearby weather station data whre the avalanche center forecast is not available; I see the reference to such data in many CAIC accident reports.