Snow and Avalanche Center Awareness, Module 1 - Introduction

Module Description - Introduction

Course Overview - Registration


This is the module with introductory material for the General Avalanche Awareness ClassOpens in New Window developed and supported by AlpenPro Opens in New Window and offered here in the Avalanche InstituteOpens in New Window. This module covers some basic terminology, identification of the three main climate classifications in North America, the five level Danger Scale, and the avalanche triangle. It corresponds loosely to the introductory material and the format of the far more extensive Level 1 CourseOpens in New Window.

This general awareness course should serve at least two sets of users well. The first are those that do some recreating in winter in the backcountry but are primarily interested in avoiding avalanche terrain entirely, or limiting the extent of their exposure to the hazard to the minimum level necessary for their trips. Snowshoers and Cross Country skiers are often in this category. The second group are those that want to have a better basis for risk assessment and management without avoiding avalanche terrain entirely. The Level 1 course is intended to meet this need in more depth, but this course provides an introduction to what can be expected there as well as to the online platform. And despite being shorter and more basic than a Level 1 course this course will give you some of the most important background needed to plan a safe trip.


  • Understand the basic terms which describe avalanches and slabs
  • List the three most common snow climates in North America
  • Be familiar with the five-level danger scale
  • Recognize the limitations of the five-level danger scale
  • Know the elements of the avalanche triangle
  • Differentiate between objective and human factors
  • Know what will not be covered in this course and why


This basic lesson includes these topics:

  • Basic avalanche related terms
  • Climate classifications
  • The Danger Scale and its limitations
  • The Avalanche Triangle

Human and technical Resources

This awareness course is not designed to require the kind of human resources our Level 1 course and Climbers course involve. All assessments in this course are online and instantly checked automatically, nothing is ever submitted to any instructor.

You can find tools for human interaction in "Module 0", including forums where you can post comments or questions for any part of this course. Each module has a Dropbox feature for sending files to anyone currently in the course.

While we provide minimal instructional human resources we do want to address any technical questions or problems as quickly as possible. In this case contact us using the Dropbox or on the forum.


This course has self-assessments along the way. These are entirely online. There is no minimum score to continue to the next learning path step, and you can take they as many times as you wish to.

Our longer courses require a minimum score on each assessment but students can still take them as many times as they wish. There are also a few cases in those courses where something is submitted and not automatically checked online.



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