Introduction to Snow Avalanche Mapping

“The digital mapping day was excellent. Some formal instruction on Google Earth, coupled with GPS line work and polygons, formalized techniques I have been playing with for a while. Definitely a good day.”
- Jeff Honig, Operations Manager, Selkirk Tangiers Helicopter Skiing

This seven day course provides an introduction to snow avalanche mapping for individuals:
  • Working, or interested in working in, the avalanche risk management industry;
  • Accustomed and comfortable working in the backcountry in a variety of weather conditions;
  • Accurate and diligent when working with data and information;
  • Computer literate.
50% of the course time will be spent working in the classroom and labs. The other half of the course will be spent conducting field work at avalanche sites in the nearby area. The course will generally run from 8:00 to 17:30, with daily assignments requiring evening work in the air photo lab. Refer to the sample schedule for details.
Please note: There is a fair bit of driving on course and students are responsible for their own transportation on the course. Classtime is set aside to organize carpooling.

Refer to the sample equipment list for what you'll need. 

Visit the course calendar for course/exam dates, locations and registration.
The mapping course has run for the 2015/16 season. The next course will run in the fall of 2016.

****The 2016-17 course will take place in Nelson Sept 10-16 2016. Registration will open June 22 2016. ****


Program Goals

For each course the Canadian Avalanche Association creates specific course goals and learning objectives. These reflect industry standards and current best practices and are updated accordingly. The Introduction to Avalanche  Mapping course goals and objectives are displayed in the Mapping DACUM. If you are unfamiliar with DACUMs please read the document "Learn what a DACUM is and why it is important".


Applicants must have:

  • CAA Avalanche Operations Level 1 certificate or a Resource and Transportation Avalanche Management course; OR
  • Similar training and experience in a related field and can demonstrate good working knowledge of the avalanche phenomenon and mapping principles;*
  • Strong topographic map reading and interpretation skills;
  • Basic trigonometry and algebra skills, sufficient to evaluate slope lengths and inclines, work with fractions and scales, and be able to rearrange formulae to solve basic equations;
  • Good physical fitness.

* For those with similar training and experience, you must apply to waive the prerequisite using the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) application; this form should be submitted during the application process. A PLA reference form will need to be submitted on your behalf: PLA CAA Professional Reference Form or CAA Non-CAA Professional Reference Form. The DACUM for the self assessment can be found in Student Resources

Please note: Successful completion of this course does not qualify you to conduct snow avalanche mapping work without supervision.


Registration opens in July for the following Fall. Note that full payment is taken at the time of registration.

You will be required to upload a scan of the following document during your registration process. Without it you will be unable to complete your registration. A scan can be a legible digital photo of the required document. A scan is needed of:

  • CAA Level 1 or RTAM certificate OR an approved Prior Learning Assessment*.

*Applicants wishing to be exempted from prerequisites due to similar training and experience should apply to waive the prerequisite using the Prior Learning Assessment application before registering online. A PLA reference form will need to be submitted on your behalf: PLA CAA Professional Reference Form or CAA Non-CAA Professional Reference Form. The DACUM for the self assessment can be found in Student Resources.

Tuition and Funding Opportunities

****The following are 2016-17 tuition prices. Note that prices are now location-specific to reflect ACTUAL costs associated with course locations****  


Nelson: $1961 


An additional $100 registration fee is applied to International Students.

Course Evaluation

Participants' learning on this course will be evaluated based on the daily assignments and the final assignment. Participants must attend the entire course, complete all daily assignments, and receive 71% or more on the final assignment in order to receive a certificate.

Course Equipment and Materials

Refer to sample course equipment for an example of student equipment needs.

A course manual is included as part of the tuition for the course and includes course notes, pre-course assignments, exercises, and the CAA's Land Manager’s Guide to Snow Avalanche Hazards in Canada. The pre-course materials must be completed prior to starting the course. Students will be required to download the following text supplied in the student manual.

  • Weir, P. (2002). Snow Avalanche Management in Forested Terrain, BC Ministry of Forestry. ISBN 0-7726-4881-6. The download link is supplied in the student manual.


In addition to the supplied technical references, there are other publications that are highly recommended to students. Each student should have personal copies of the following publications and be fully familiar with their content and use in the avalanche industry. Call 250-837-2435 ext. 240 to order. 

  • McClung, D. & Schaerer, P. (2006). The Avalanche Handbook. 3rd ed.: Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd. ISBN 978-0-89886-809-8
  • Canadian Avalanche Association, (2014). Observation Guidelines and Recording Standards for Weather, Snowpack and Avalanches[JL2] . ISBN 0-9685856-3-9


Box 2759, 110 MacKenzie Ave
Revelstoke, BC Canada, V0E 2S0
Find us
Tel 250-837-2435
Fax 866-366-2094
Contact us
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