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Climbing, Scrambling, Snowshoeing, Navigation & Avalanche Safety Course

Winter Travel: Trip Planning

Interested to learn or refresh your route planning skills by applying the NWAC forecast in conjunction with maps and telemetry data? This course will teach avalanche basics, how to read maps, explore useful online resources to be better prepared for your winter activities in the backcountry.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers course.
NOTE: Due to the ongoing pandemic and the rise of variants of the COVID-19 virus we will evaluate the restrictions closer to the course dates and modify the course as needed for the safety of our students and instructors.  

This course helps you to be better prepared for your winter activities in the backcountry.

recommend taking this IN CONJUNCTION WITH the course, "Winter Travel: Practicing Terrain Choices and Rescue Drills", to implement your online learning in the field BY observing your surroundings against your understanding/plans and to practice making decisions as a group to travel safely and enjoy the winter wonderland in our backyard - Pacific NorthWest.


  • Lecture 1 provides an introduction to Caltopo and Gaia for those who are new to it. (optional)
  • Lecture 2 helps the students to understand the basics of avalanches, interpret avalanche forecasts and gather more accurate weather information, and estimate route conditions beforehand. The participants will be provided to go through an asynchronous online tutorial before the first lecture to maximize the use of our time and make the session more interactive. The time commitment for the pre-lecture tutorial is not more than a few hours and it will be shared a week in advance.
  • Lecture 3 covers reading maps and exploring various online resources that can be used to plan your route such as GAIA, Caltopo, FATMap, Google Earth.
  • Lecture 4 will teach trip planning for winter traveling in the backcountry. Before this lecture, the students will submit their trip plan with given information and what they learned from lectures 1 & 2. The differences will be explored anonymously, and tips will be shared to improve the work or compliment it. This lecture will allow the students to form small groups and plan their own trip after learning trip planning skills and compare their results before and after the lecture.

Note: Although some lectures are optional, we highly recommend taking them for a better outcome from the course and also advance your skillset in reading avalanche & weather forecasts, telemetry data, topographic maps, and exploring various online resources available to plan our trips better. 

This course does not replace AIARE's Level-1 or Avalanche Rescue Course.

Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
Introduction to Maps (optional)
Seattle Program Center
Thu, Dec 23, 2021
Registration closes Dec 21
30 participants
5 instructors
Interpreting Avalanche Forecast
Seattle Program Center
Thu, Jan 6, 2022
Registration closes Jan 4
30 participants
1 instructor
Using Maps
Seattle Program Center
Thu, Jan 13, 2022
Registration closes Jan 11
30 participants
5 instructors
Trip Planning Exercise
Seattle Program Center
Thu, Jan 20, 2022
Registration closes Jan 18
30 participants
5 instructors
Required Equipment

Computer, Internet, paper, and pen :)

Course Materials

There are no materials for this course.