MAG’s Level 1 Avalanche Course is for skiers and snow boarders looking to gain the skills and knowledge for safe backcountry travel. Our three-day course takes place around Bozeman, MT in the backcountry of Hyalite Canyon and areas in Yellowstone NP south of Big Sky for all field sessions. This allows us the opportunity to look at two different snowpacks providing a much more comprehensive environmental classroom than visiting the same general locations each day. Class sessions will take place in Bozeman, MT.
Our Level 1 Avalanche Course follows national guidelines set by the American Avalanche Association; including our instructors credentials, material covered, duration, classroom and field components.  Our Level 1 Course is designed to provide students with the knowledge to confidently pursue backcountry ski terrain.  After completion of our L1 course you will receive a card from MAG that lists your name, dates of course, & instructors name.  As a AAA recognized educator your completion of our L1 course should be accepted by other avalanche educators if you wish to pursue you avalanche education to the Level 2, Pro 1 or Pro 2 levels.

Ski Terrain:  The backcountry ski terrain in Hyalite Canyon is a 20-40 minute drive from downtown Bozeman, making it one of the most easily accessible backcountry ski locations to town, complete with peak ski objectives to tree skiing and meadows.  Our Level 1 Avalanche Course occurs in the backcountry of Hyalite Canyon and areas in Yellowstone NP south of Big Sky.  NOTE: Exact locations for field sessions are subject to change.


DAY 1- 

8:30-12:30 Classroom Session- Bozeman, MT

1:30-5:30 Field Session- Gallatin Range
DAY 2-
7:30-12:30 Field Session- Gallatin Range
1:30-5:30 Classroom Session- Bozeman, MT

DAY 3- 

7:00 am – 6:00pm – Full Day Field Session –

Meet at MAG, 11 Enterprise Blvd, Bozeman, MT 59718

(Drive to Yellowstone NP or Hyalite Canyon)

NOTE: Drive times loosely factored in.


Day 1 & Day 2 (Thursday & Friday, 6-9 pm)

Day 3 & Day 4 (Saturday & Sunday, ~8-5 pm),

Equipment List

NOTE: MAG carries and sells the Mammut items listed above.  You can purchase these to pick up before or on the starting day of your trip.

  • Ski pants 
  • Shell jacket 
  • Insulated jacket (down or synthetic)
  • Fleece mid layer
  • Long underwear, mid-weight (top & bottom), synthetic or wool
  • Ski socks
  • Hat: fleece or wool that covers the ears
  • Gloves: a pair for skinning and a pair for digging pits and instruction
  • Neck gaiter/Buff
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Sunglasses
  • Goggles
  • Camera/Phone
  • Small notebook & Pencil
  • Thermos: optional but nice to have (can replace water bottle)
  • Food for the day (enough snacks and lunch for each day)
  • Pen/Pencil and notebook for class time
Course Content
  • Avalanche types and anatomy
  • Basic slab mechanics Terrain
    Terrain evaluation and route selection • Travel protocols & group communication
  • Snowpack and Weather
    Mountain snowpack development leading to instability or stability • Field observations, tests and judging instability • Use of avalanche & snow pit tools: inclinometer, compass, probe, saw • Introduce elementary pit diagrams with hand hardness profiles, basic grain type symbols and stability tests. Expose to recording field notes. • Avalanche & snow climates
  • Decision-support Tools
    Human factors and the need for systematic decision tools • Application & limitations of decision tools • Avalanche bulletins
  • Rescue
    Companion rescue including scene size up, organization, beacon use, probing, shoveling • Recovery of victims not wearing beacons • Common mistakes in avalanche rescue • Single and multiple beacon search techniques • Role of first aid and emergency response in real avalanche rescues

Course Content follows guidelines established by American Avalanche Association

Recommended Reading
  • Snow Sense, Jill Fredston & Doug Fesler
    • Start with this book (130 pages)
  • Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, Bruce Tremper
    • This book has it all and goes beyond our Level 1 Course. It remains a staple text for snow safety.
Sign Up!

Course Duration

3 day course

2018/19 Course Dates

  • Dec. 14-16 (Friday-Sunday)
  • Dec. 29-31 (Saturday-Monday)
  • Jan. 4-6 (Friday- Sunday)
  • Jan. 19-21 (Saturday- Monday)
  • Jan. 19-21 High School ONLY ages 15-18, (Sat-Mon.)
  • Jan 31-Feb 3 (Thurs./Fri. 6-9pm; Sat-Sun-all day)
  • Feb. 16-18 (Saturday-Monday)
  • Feb. 22-24 (Friday-Sunday)




Maximum 6 : 1 ratio

Don’t see course dates or schedule that works for you?
Visit our calendar for other course dates for you or your group.