Avy savvy: Avalanche training essential for backcountry sports

Class on snowpack observation | Sean McAlindin

Are you thinking of heading into the backcountry this winter? If so, you should take an avalanche safety course approved by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) or attend a free event to learn more about this rewarding, yet potentially risky, sport.

In addition to public courses, some companies offer private guided tours, avalanche safety classes and introduction to backcountry skiing days. Safety is always the No. 1 priority when traveling off-piste, so know before you go.

Avalanche education class

Presented by Tahoe Mountain Sports, the session on Dec. 13 will focus on avalanche rescue techniques with representatives of Tahoe Mountain School and Tahoe Nordic Search & Rescue. Doors open at 6 p.m. at Alibi Ale Works in Truckee. There will be a raffle to benefit participating nonprofits. | tahoemountainsports.com

Backcountry Safety Awareness Week

Be prepared for back-country travel this winter with informative talks and events including Sharing the Backcountry Panel on Dec. 13; Backcountry Film Festival on Dec. 14; Women’s specific Intro to the Backcountry Lecture on Dec. 15; and a guided tour followed by professional athlete panel hosted on Dec. 16 along with Lake Tahoe Snowmobilers monthly meetup and beacon park at Little Truckee Summit. | takecaretahoe.org/backcountry

Après & Avy Awareness

Meet the Sierra Avalanche Center team on Dec. 20 from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Judah Lodge at Sugar Bowl to discuss avalanche awareness and learn other important backcountry information. Sierra Vista bar will be open. Free. | sierraavalanchecenter.org

Motorized Avalanche classes

Sierra Avalanche Center offers Intro, Level 1, Rescue and Level 2 and women-specific avalanche classes for motorized users on select dates from Jan. 12 to Feb. 18. Many classes are free but fill up fast. | sierraavalanchecenter.org

Avalanche & safety resources