Awareness, Module 2 - Objective Factors
Module Description - Objective Factors
Course Overview - Registration
This is the second module of the General Avalanche Awareness Class developed and supported by AlpenPro and offered here in the Avalanche Institute. This module covers the objective factors of weather, snowpack and terrain. Each of these factors is further broken down into a few key topics.
These factors are objective because we must take them as they exist, we have no control over these things. How we incorporate these factors into our planning and decision making is subjective and will differ from person to person and group to group. Subjective aspects of avalanche safety are covered in the next two modules. However, to make an informed plan or decision the objective factors must be understood.
This module corresponds loosely to the material and the format of the far more extensive Level 1 course, and is to some extent a small subset of that. The additional topics in Level 1 are described at the end of the module for those that are interested.
In our Level 1 Avalanche Course each of these factors - weather, terrain and snowpack - have their own extensive modules which go into much more detail. (Snowpack even has two modules.) Our Climbers Class discusses these factors specifically within spring conditions. We are also constantly considering new stand-alone modules on specific specialized topics outside the scope of our regular course curricula.
- List the three key categories of observables
- List two or three actual parameters of importance within each observable category
- Explain why these parameters are important
- Describe the differences in typical winter weather between different climate zones
- Locate and interpret appropriate weather forecast products
- Describe how the two components of gravity affect the inclined snowpack
- Describe how some of the different layers in a mountain snowpack form
- Characterize, generally, maritime vs. continental snowpacks
- Differentiate between new snow weaknesses and persistent weaknesses
- Explain what surface hoar is and why it is dangerous when buried
- List snow observations that can be made without a snowpit
- Understand terrain and consequences, including the role of the danger scale
- List and describe some of the key properties and indicators of avalanche terrain
- Identify obvious active avalanche paths and terrain traps
- Recognize starting zones and run-out areas
This module covers three general topics:
Each of these is broken down further into sub-topics, the Outline on this page shows more detail.
Wind, Energy, Precipitation
Wind Transport of Snow
Distribution of Windblown Snow
Radiational Energy Balance
Types of Precipitation
Gravity on the Snowpack
The Mountain Snowpack
Climate and Snowpack
The Danger Scale and Consequences
Snowpack Climate and Consequences
Terrain and Consequences
Measuring Slope Angle
Case Study #1
Case Study #2
Workbook Case Studies
Evaluation and Feedback
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.
This module has limited access to human resources but full technical support. There are some limited ways to contact an instructor and to interact with other students.
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.
There are quizzes incorporated into this course which allow students to check their understanding of the material. Quizzes may be taken as many times as desired, either to obtain a higher score or to attempt to ultimately get a perfect score.
Quizzes are all taken and scored online automatically.
Successful completion of this module requires taking all assessments but there are no minimum score requirements to continue to the next step in the learning path.