Avalanche Operations Level 2


The CAA Avalanche Operations Level 2 program is an advanced program for people who work full time with avalanche safety and control operations. Participants must have at least 100 days of work experience recording and collecting weather, snowpack, and avalanche activity observations before applying. This requires at least two full-time seasons of active operational experience as a team member, ideally working under the mentorship of CAA Professional Members. As a team member, you are involved with daily operational meetings and participating in operational activities involving anticipating and forecasting avalanche risk.


As of Fall 2020, the Level 2 program is divided into two components; a course and an assessment. Each component includes a significant amount of pre-readings, questions, and recommended activities to be completed before the course begins. Click on this link for details on the new delivery. 
  • The Avalanche Operations Level 2 Course takes place over 8 days and includes a blend of classroom (50%) and field-based learning (50%). It focusses on personal performance, team building, communication, advanced snow science concepts, and operational decision-making & risk management.
  • The Avalanche Operations Level 2 Assessment is a 6-day field course where students’ skills and competency, in both technical knowledge and practical application of Level 2 concepts, are evaluated.

An Avalanche Operations Level 2 certificate is granted to students who successfully complete the Assessment. 

Program Goals

The Avalanche Operations Level 2 course goals and objectives are displayed in the Level 2 DACUM.

If you are unfamiliar with DACUMs please read the document "Learn what a DACUM is and why it is important".


Those considering applying to the Level 2 program should refer to the Career Development Guidelines for Level 1 Graduates document for information on professional development and the minimum requirements for applying.


Applicants must have and prove at time of applying to the Level 2 program:

  • CAA Avalanche Operations Level 1 certificate or similar training/experience 1
  • CAA Introduction to Weather or similar training and experience 1
  • CAA Avalanche Search & Rescue Advanced Skills (formerly called Avalanche Search and Rescue Response) & Practical Skills Assessment or similar training and experience 1
  • Thorough working knowledge of the CAA Observation Guidelines & Recording Standards (OGRS 2016), including a minimum of:
    • 50 recorded weather observations (study plot, field, and/or telemetry);
    • 30 recorded snow profiles (test and full profiles);
    • 30 avalanche occurrence observations
  • 100 days minimum of work experience over two operating seasons in weather, snowpack & avalanche occurrence observations & analysis. This includes participation as a team member, attending daily operations meetings and participation in operational activities that require avalanche risk management
  • Advanced backcountry skiing, boarding, or snowmobiling skills AND good fitness 2
  • A minimum of two letters of reference from CAA Professional Members 3
  • Completed all of the steps outlined on the Level 2 Application Information webpage

1 If you are missing these prerequisites but believe you have similar training and/or experience, you may apply for prior learning in order to have the prerequisite waived. Please visit the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) application webpage for details .


Students will have the travel skills, equipment, and navigational knowledge to safely and efficiently travel on snow in the backcountry in winter months. Students should expect strenuous activities, e.g. using skins to break trail for several hours at a time with track climbs of up to 700m (2100') vertical, and carrying a pack with food, rescue equipment and winter clothing. Students are required to be proficient at downhill travel over snow in all winter conditions. Students will be required to efficiently dig snow profiles up to 1.5m deep. instructors expect students have the winter clothing to maintain warmth when  standing in the snow for up to a 2-hour duration. 


Students, particularly international students, who do not have an affiliation with a CAA Professional Member, may provide references from: their current avalanche industry employer or supervisor, their mentor, a fellow industry professional, and/or a Level 2 graduate who is familiar with the candidate’s avalanche resume. Links to reference forms can be found on the Level 2 Application Information webpage.


Application Process

Students are required to apply for the Level 2 program and are accepted based on meeting the prerequisites listed above. For all Level 2 application information, and the link to the online application form, please visit the Level 2 Application webpage.

Course Fees and Funding Opportunities

*2020-21 course fees will be posted May 25, 2020*

The following are 2019-20 course fees and locations: 

Module 1

Revelstoke: $1,223


An additional $100 registration fee for the Module 1 is applied to students with an international mailing address to account for shipping costs of course materials.


Module 2 

Monashee Powder Snowcats (includes hut fees): $1713.40

Golden: $1,377 (includes lift access)


Module 3

Whistler: $2,448 (includes lift access)

Golden: $2,448 (includes lift access and a helicopter flight)


Full payment is due at time of registration.


The Avalanche Canada Foundation offers yearly scholarships for students.  

There is also the Alberta job grant, a Golden Area scholarship, and the ACMG also has funding available for eligible students. Often local organizations have funding as well (e.g search and rescue clubs, employment centres, local industry grants etc.).

Continuing Professional Development

Module 1, 2, and 3 courses are open to past Level 2 graduates as CPD. Typically 2% of Module 1 students are CPD students, enabling a rich and collaborative learning environment for all involved. Numerous organizations have sent significant numbers of senior avalanche personnel to participate in these courses annually.

Course Equipment and Materials

Upon registration all students will receive a confirmation e-mail that contains links to the course's logistics and pre-course preparation information. Alternatively you can click on the course's title in the course calendar to view logistics details.


Students will be mailed a program package1 that includes relevant pre-course material, including the Avalanche Handbook.


1 It is the student's responsibility to contact the CAA office if they have not received this package 1 month prior to course start. The package will be mailed to the address you provided during your online registration.


Pre-course readings, online questions, and recommended activities take time, 20+ hours, and must be completed prior to each component. Be sure to read your logistics letters thoroughly as they contain pertinent information in preparing for the courses.


There is no specific equipment list for the Level 2 course components. If you have questions about equipment please refer to the Level 1 Student Equipment List.


Use the Level 2 sample schedule to help anticipate daily needs.


Visit the course calendar and click on the course title that you are interested in for location-specific logistics information. Registered Level 2 students will also be emailed these logistics in their registration confirmation emails.


Please note: students are responsible for their own transportation on the course.

Course Evaluation

Participants’ learning during the Level 2 program will be formally evaluated during the Assessment. This formal evaluation is a combination of written tests and exercises, field book observations, practical field examinations, field discussions, and AM and PM Operational Hazard Analysis.


Passing Requirement

  • Must obtain a minimum of 70% on all assessment categories to receive the Avalanche Operations Level 2 certificate.
  • Failure in two or more assessment categories results in failure in the entire course despite an overall mark greater than 70%

Retest criteria

  • If a student has an overall mark of 70% but has failed oneof the assessment categories,they are eligible to retest the failed category.
  • The above criterium applies to all but the Field Risk Managementcannot be retested. Field Field-based terrain selection and group management is dependent on team hazard analysis andcontributionsto decisions, consensus decisions, and an evaluation of hazard trends over several days prior to a final evaluation. This cannot be replicated in a retest environmentand therefore cannot be retested

Detailed evaluation criteria will be provided as part of course materials. Students are encouraged to clarify questions with their instructors during the Course and prior to the Assessment. Informal feedback will be provided throughout the Level 2 Course.

International Courses

Industry Training Program curriculum is delivered every year in countries around the world. If you are interested in finding out more about our international outreach projects, please contact the CAA directly.







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