Learn about avalanche danger

A course in avalanche safety education is being offered in the coming weeks.

A course in avalanche safety education is being offered in the coming weeks.

Roger Friesen, a professor of sports psychology and co-ordinator for the adventure tourism program at the University of the Fraser Valley, is teaching the course, which is sponsored by Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

As technology improves, people are able to access increasingly remote places.

“There’s been an explosion of people exploring winter recreation in the mountains,” said Friesen.

Every winter, there are stories about people who ventured into these places and are injured or killed by avalanches, he added, but there is also an increasing desire from people who seek winter wilderness recreation to learn about the risks and how to manage them.

The Avalanche Skills Training Courses give people the basic  understanding of avalanche risk, and how to manage in this terrain. The courses provide basic training in making assessments of terrain and snow pack stability, which then leads to making good decisions. Participants are also given instruction on the necessary equipment to carry with them and how to use it.

A member of the Canadian Avalanche Association, Friesen’s training is valued by ski patrol, heli-ski operators and back-country enthusiasts.

He said the course is a 2 1/2-day workshop. Typically a Friday evening is spent in a classroom setting learning theory, then Saturday and Sunday are completely in the field.

“We give people a rudimentary knowledge of what to look for, and conditions that make a slope unstable,” said Friesen. “It’s the kind of information that every single person who goes into the wilderness should have.”

In addition to knowing the conditions that create avalanche danger, the participants will learn how to use the tools to rescue avalanche victims, including a transceiver and collapsible probe to locate people trapped under snow.

The courses are offered Jan. 13- 15, and Feb. 24-26. For more details call  604-850-5523 or email to:

abbotsfordstaff@vpo.ca.