Avalanche Operations Level 2


Avalanche Operations Level 2 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 participate in operational activities that involve 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 they begin. Click on this link for details on the new delivery. 
  • The Avalanche Operations Level 2 Course takes place over eight days and includes a blend of classroom (50%) and field-based (50%) learning. 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 six-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 Level 2 course goals and objectives are displayed in the 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 "Career Development Guidelines for Level 1 Graduates" for information on professional development and the minimum requirements for applying.


Applicants must have and prove at time of application:

  • CAA Avalanche Operations Level 1 certificate or similar training/experience1
  • CAA Introduction to Weather or similar training and experience1
  • CAA Avalanche Search & Rescue Advanced Skills (formerly called Avalanche Search and Rescue Response/Theory and Practical Skills Assessment) or similar training and experience1
  • 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); and
    • 30 avalanche occurrence observations.
  • 100 days minimum of work experience over at least two operating seasons in weather, snowpack, and 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, snowboarding, or snowmobiling skills, AND good fitness2
  • A minimum of two letters of reference from CAA Professional Members3
  • 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 a Prior Learning Assessment 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 such as breaking trail for several hours at a time with track climbs of up to 700m vertical, while 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 to have the winter clothing to maintain warmth when standing in the snow for up to two hours. 


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

*Winter 2022 course schedule and fees are subject to change due to COVID-19*

Level 2 course:


Golden: $2,349.90 (tuition $2,099.90 + admin fee $250)

Golden Sled: $2154.90 (tuition $1,904.90 + admin fee $250)


Level 2 Assessment:

Golden: $2,491.25 (tuition $1,900 + admin fee $250 + helicopter fee $341.25)

Golden Sled: $2,345 (tuition $2,095 + admin fee $250)


Payment option and modified cancellation policy


The Avalanche Canada Foundation offers yearly scholarships for students. There is also the Alberta job grant, a Golden-area scholarship, and the ACMG 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 receive a confirmation email that contains links to the course logistics and online pre-course access. Alternatively, you can click on a specific course title in the course calendar to view logistic details for that venue. Note that the online pre-course and recommended activities take approximately 20+ hours and must be completed prior to the course.


The student equipment list provides a reference for equipment requirements. The sample schedule helps anticipate daily needs.


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

Retest criteria

  • If a student has an overall mark of 70% but has failed one of the assessment categories, they are eligible to re-test the failed category.
  • The field risk management category cannot be retested. Field-based terrain selection and group management is dependent on team hazard analysis and contributions to decisions, consensus decisions, and an evaluation of hazard trends over several days prior to a final evaluation. This cannot be replicated in a re-test environment and therefore cannot be re-tested.

Here is a description of the evaluation criteria including the marking rubrics that are used for the assessment.

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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