Online Level 1 Avalanche Course

Module 1 Description - Preliminary and Background Material

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This is the module with preliminary background material for the Level 1 Avalanche Class developed and supported by AlpenPro and offered here in the Avalanche Institute. 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.

This is basic background material and is therefore presented almost entirely as PDF notes. This is not representative of the rest of our Level 1 modules which use html, links for case studies, graphics, videos, and other forms of presentation. This module is also not representative in terms of interaction, again due to the nature of the material. Other modules are more likely to require use of the Dropbox, offer forums, and encourage more interaction.


  • Become familiar with the course formats and features
  • 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 is a stand-alone course covering very basic material. Some links and references are included. There are no human resources available in this class, unlike others where there is often interaction and active participation by an instructor. (While the module does not require or even encourage interaction with an instructor it is certainly possible to contact one if necessary.)


There are quizzes incorporated into this course which allow students to check their understanding of the material.

Successful completion of this module requires passing all assessments.

Course material

Most of the materials included in this module are from a workbook developed and used by AlpenPro. A few items are from the Avalanche Center website. Links are provided to external resources where appropriate.