High Level We prepare professional freeride athletes and independent adventurers for big mountain exploration, in remote mountain ranges around the world.
Private We operate in high angle technical terrain. This is the highest level course of its kind, therefore participation is application-based, specifically designed for you & your crew.
Comprehensive This is not just an avalanche course, it’s an in-depth big mountain course covering technical rope skills, modern navigation methods, and cutting edge snow science. All mountain travel is student-led.
December 2020 – Feb 2021
Starting at $1700 per person (based on a 4 person crew)
Teton, WY or Wasatch, UT
* Required minimum group size: 3 participants
(included in program)
Metamorphism of Snow
Understanding the Season History
The Complete Picture of Stability
Interpretation of Stability Tests
High Angle Terrain Management
Temperature Effects on Avalanche Release
Decision-Making Framework for Ski Alpinism
Stacking, Coiling, and Pre-rigging for Ski Alpinism
Belay techniques for Slab Management
Stances Anchors and Advanced Transitions
Where does this course fit into the certification process?
Until a few years ago, avalanche education was divided into Levels I, II & III. In 2017, the American Avalanche Association adopted a new structure that divides education into Professional and Recreational tracks.
The Recreational track ends at Level II, an ideal course for a backcountry skier at a developmental stage in their career.
The Professional track is designed to give individuals working in an institutional setting, the standards to communicate and share information consistently. It is heavily focused on standardized data collection and is not well suited to the decision-making needs of independent skiers and riders operating in high consequence, remote terrain.
The Big Mountain Snow Safety fills the gap in education for high-level independent riders, incorporating the decision-making tools and research of the previous Level III course with a focus on small group management in high-angle alpine terrain.
What sets the Samsara program apart?
We require that all field time is student-led. Students prepare detailed route plans, take turns leading their group through the mountain terrain, and decide when to stop and evaluate. Most importantly, they conduct assessments and practice interpreting results, converting their findings into decisions of where and how to travel.
Instructors are always directly behind, helping to develop and refine decision-making habits. It is this process of trial and error, of making decisions and explaining your thinking that creates learning that will change how you move through the mountains for the rest of your life.
What are the student requirements?
Please read the prerequisites carefully. If you don’t meet the requirements but are keen to move in this direction, taking this course pre-maturely will not accelerate your learning.
- Minimum 8 years of human-powered backcountry riding experience
- Completed American Avalanche Association approved Level I & II Avalanche courses within the past 5 years
- Completed American Avalanche Association approved Rescue Fundamentals course
- 5 documented ski descents of 45-degree or steeper backcountry terrain
- 5 documented ski descents involving 6000’+ in a day
- Documented snow assessment, and decision-making experience in at least 2 different mountain ranges
- Proficiency with multiple burials – 2 beacons in a 50m x 50m area, probe strike within 7mins.
The Big Mountain Snow Safety Program meets the American Avalanche Association guidelines and is certified through the American Avalanche Institute at the Level II standard.