What does Level 1 and Level 2 mean exactly? It means that our courses conform fully to guidelines laid down by the American Avalanche Assoc. (AAA). Other avalanche course providers may also use the terms Level 1 and Level 2 but you should check for yourself what that actually means with them. Avalanche Geeks fully adhere to the recommended curriculum guidelines laid down for each course (level) by the American Avalanche Assoc. (AAA), in recommended content, contact hours as well as instructor standards and student ratio’s. With us you can take a single course, or progress through a series of courses that follow a syllabus recognised as a benchmark standard of avalanche education, not just in America but world wide. It means for example that you could take a Level 1 with Avalanche Geeks and a couple of years later move on to take a Level 2 from a provider such as AIARE in Colorado and your instructors will know exactly the knowledge that you already have. This way it’s possible to build your knowledge year upon year, resulting in a very strong skill set.
I can’t ski. Can I still do a course with you? Most Avalanche Geeks courses run on ski. This is because a big part of what we teach is terrain selection. Remember: “Poor terrain selection will get you into trouble, good terrain selection will keep you out of trouble”. With this in mind we want to travel through as much terrain as we can during the course, and being on ski’s allows this. That said, we do run both the Introduction to Avalanche and the Level 1 in Scotland on foot as private bookings. You only need two people for us to arrange the Introduction to Avalanche course, and three for the Level 1. See the courses page for more information.
I have ski touring kit, but I’m not a very good skier. I’m worried I won’t be able to keep up. Don’t worry! It’s an avalanche course not a skiing course. We use ski’s to travel through the mountains for efficiency. If you can link parallel turns on a red run in resort then you’ll be fine on our courses. That said, if we can ski some fun turns and lines while we travel through the mountains we certainly will: we aim to have lots of fun on our courses. Check the equipment list for what your need with regards to touring kit.
My Avalanche Beacon is pretty old. Is that OK or should a borrow a newer one for my course? The short answer is neither! Beacon technology has moved on a lot in recent years. The industry standard is now a 3 antennae digital beacon. If you have an old analogue beacon then it really needs retiring. When was the last time you had that beacon serviced? Remember, your life may depend on your beacon functioning correctly. We don’t recommend you borrowing or renting a modern beacon unless it’s a model that you seriously intend to buy. Part of our Level 1 & 2 courses is fairly intensive coaching with your beacon during searches, so that you become very familiar with it. All the different models have their own little quirks, and your Avalanche Geeks instructor can work through these with you, but if you’re constantly swapping beacons you won’t be able to gain that familiarity. Check our kit list and links for what we like on the market right now. Avalanche Geeks deliberately don’t have a beacon sponsor so that we can offer unbiased opinion on what we think is best.
Your courses look expensive. Am I really going to get my money worth out of them? I’m pretty happy with my avalanche skills already…Our introductory course cost less than a pair of crampons. Our Level 2 course costs less than a mid range Gore-Tex jacket. The learning outcomes that you leave with will last a lot longer than that Gore-Tex jacket and will hopefully lead to you having more fun as well as safer days in the mountains. Most of our course participants come to us with a variety of avalanche skills but all leave knowing a lot more and with a greatly improved skill base, be they recreational skiers or fully certified Mountain Instructors. Check out our testimonials.
Will my booked course definitely go ahead? We haven’t cancelled an advertised course yet! We need a minimum number to run a course, but our courses book up quickly so that’s never an issue. In fact the main problem we have is having to turn people away as they try and book too late. Many of our courses are full before winter has even started! The weather in Scotland often proves challenging but we can still achieve what we need to cover on the syllabus in all but the most severe weather.
I don’t rock 120 underfoot to ski a wind scoured crap fest…aren’t your courses just going to be telling me to travel on windward slopes and stick to ridge lines when it’s getting rowdy in the powdy? Err no. As the video tutorials featuring Rocket & Lucy on our video page go on to explain: avalanche education will give you the knowledge to make educated decisions when travelling in the backcountry. So come join us this season, improve your skills and knowledge and have some fun skiing and learning with the Avalanche Geeks.