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Avalanche Education


MAS avalanche courses blend classroom and "on-snow" exercises to provide a thorough and "hands-on" understanding of avalanche hazards.  MAS follows the standards set by AIARE (American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education) which is recognized internationally as the industry leader in avalanche education. MAS avalanche course participants benefit from our classroom that is literally a stone's throw from the snow so little time is wasted when transitioning to the field portions. Overall MAS and Bear Valley provide the ideal setting for learning and honing your winter backcountry skills. We hope to see you on the snow soon.

MAS Avalanche Education Courses:


avalanche lectures Free Avalanche Awareness Lecture

Whether you ski, snowshoe, snowboard or snowmobile in the backcountry, recognition of avalanche danger is an essential and potentially lifesaving skill. These educational 1.5 hour multimedia presentations provide an overview of the awesome phenomenon of avalanches! Attendees gain a basic understanding of the formation and release of avalanches and ways to avoid them. This program is a great primer to taking the MAS AIARE Avalanche Level I Seminar.

avalanche class
Price: Free

avalanche safety


Length: 1.5 hours (7 - 8:30 PM)
Dates Location Store
Jan. 7, 2015 Concord REI*
Jan. 7, 2015 Sacramento REI*
Jan. 8, 2015 Mt. View REI*
Jan. 13 Saratoga REI*
Jan. 14 San Carlos REI*
Jan. 20 San Francisco REI*
Jan. 21 Berkeley REI*
Feb. 4 Concord REI*

Feb. 5

Mt. View REI*
Feb. 10 Saratoga REI*
Feb. 11 San Carlos REI*
Feb. 17 San Francisco REI*
Feb. 18 Berkeley REI*

* - advanced regisration is recommended at specific store website



avalanche rescue Intro. to Avalanche Safety Workshop

This is a great way to start learning the basics of avalanche safety and awareness. This "hands-on" course will introduce snowpack, terrain, weather and human factors as they pertain to avalanches. Using the avalanche bulletin participants with plan and implement a backcountry tour on skies or snowshoes. Along the way learn the basics of avalanche safety gear including a beacon, probe and shovel.

Topics Covered:

  • Hazards associated with backcountry and out-of-bounds terrain.
  • Using the Avalanche Bulletins
  • Recognizing clues of avalanche danger
  • Identify avalanche terrain
  • Appropriate travel techniques
  • Rescue equipment
  • Demonstration of companion rescue
avalanche education
Price: $125
Length: 1 day (9 AM - 4 PM)
Location: Bear Valley, CA
  • Good physical fitness
  • Ability to travel over snow on either skis, snowshoes or splitboard.

Dec 28, 2014
Jan 3, 2015

Feb 1, 2015
March 7, 2015 (new date)

Additional Resources: How to Prepare for an AIARE Level I Course
Sierra Avalanche Center
Highway 4 Road Conditions
Local Lodging: Bear Valley options
Registration: avalanche course Online Registration or contact the MAS office top


avalanche course AIARE Avalanche Level I Seminar

Learn essential avalanche avoidance skills during this 3 day course. Focus is on recognizing and mitigating hazards and learning to make good decisions in avalanche terrain. Gain a thorough understanding of terrain and snowpack evaluation, trip planning, travel techniques and rescue skills.

Topics Covered:

  • Types and characteristics of avalanches
  • Avalanche hazards - “Red Flags”
  • Intro. to snowpack layering & metamorphosis
  • Bonding tests: compression test & rutschblock
  • Field observation techniques
  • Trip Planning and preparation
  • Route finding and travel techniques
  • Decision making and human factors
  • Companion rescue and equipment
avalanche education

This was a great course and my expectations were exceeded.  I especially appreciated how both instructors explained their observations while we were traveling in the backcountry.  This helped gel the course material for me."  (L. Hale - Jan, 2011)

Price: $425 Includes Student Manual, AIARE Fieldbook, use of beacon, probe, shovel and snow study kit during the course
Location: Bear Valley, CA
Length*: 3 days
2014/2015 Dates:

Dec. 12-14, 2014
Jan. 9-11, 2015 (F
Jan. 17-19, 2015 (Sat-Mon) MLK Weekend

Feb. 6-8, 2015 (Fri-Sun)
Feb. 14-16, 2015 (Sat-Mon) Presidents Weekend

Mar. 13-15, 2015 (Fri-Sun)


• Ability to travel over snow with snowshoes or backcountry skis w/skins (telemark, randonee or splitboard).
• Good physical condition (3-5 miles & 6 hours outside in the snow)
MAS Avalanche Awareness Lecture recommended

Course Materials:

• Student Manual included
AIARE Field book (issued on 1st day of class)

Meeting Place: MAS Kiosk at Bear Valley Mountain
Course Times: Day 1: 9AM - 5PM
Day 2: 8:30AM - 4:30PM
Day 3: 8AM - 4PM
Additional Resources: How to Prepare for an AIARE Level I Course
Sierra Avalanche Center
Highway 4 Road Conditions
Local Lodging: Bear Valley options.
More Course Info.: avalanche class PDF + equipment list
Registration: avalanche course Online Registration or contact the MAS office top

* - Participants can split the course over two weekends within the same season and still receive the AIARE Certificate of Completion. Contact MAS to discuss registration details.
** - Inexperienced winter backcountry travelers should consider taking either the MAS Snowshoe Adventure or Introduction to Backcountry Ski/Board Workshop before this class.




avalanche rescue AIARE Avalanche Level II Seminar

Expand your knowledge to go beyond the comforts of the "daily avalanche forecast". This intensive 4-day course is perfect for club and group leaders, patrollers and other winter backcountry enthusiasts. Special attention will be given to snow pit construction, analysis, and breaking down the elements of avalanche forecasting.  These skills are especially relevant if you are planning longer ski tours where snow conditions can change rapidly and unexpectedly. avalanche

A great course which expanded my understanding of snow, trip planning, travel techniques and rescue. The emphasis on time spent outdoors was appreciated. The instructors complimented each other and their attention to detail was awesome. (C. Miller - Feb. 2010)

Price: $600
Location: Bear Valley, CA
Length: 4 days
Dates 2015: TBA
Prerequisites: • AIARE Avalanche Level I Course or equivalent
• Ability to travel over snow with telemark, randonee or splitboard with skins, or snowshoes. All rentable through MAS.
• Very good physical condition (3-5 miles & 6 hours on the snow)
Course Materials: • Student Manual
AIARE Field book
• Required Avalanche Handbook ($22)
• Required SWAGS - Observational Guidelines ($20)
Meeting Place: MAS Kiosk at Bear Valley Mountain
Course Times: Day 1: 9AM - 5PM
Day 2: 8:30AM - 4:30PM
Day 3: 8AM - 4PM
Day 4: 8AM - 4PM
Local Lodging: Bear Valley options.
Registration: avalanche class Online Registration or contact the MAS office top


avalanche rescue AIARE Avalanche Level III Seminar

The Level 3 course provides course participants with an industry based framework to make decisions in avalanche terrain and to manage avalanche hazards common to avalanche control operations and winter guiding scenarios.

avalanche education

The Level 3 course builds on the concepts introduced in the prerequisite Level 2. These include standardizing snow and weather observations and techniques to the Snow, Weather, and Avalanche Guidelines of the American Avalanche Association (2009). The Level 3 takes the “trained observer and technician” and begins the process of making the information relevant to the complexities, variability, and influences of terrain.

More course details on the AIARE website.

Prices: $1600
Length: 7 days
Prerequisites: AIARE Level II Avalanche
2015 Dates/Locations:

Feb. 1-7, 2015 (Stanley, ID)
Feb. 22-28, 2015 (Mammoth, CA)

Registration: avalanche class Contact AIARE top