Introduction to Snow Avalanche Mapping


This seven day course provides an introduction to snow avalanche mapping for individuals who are:

  • 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.
The course time is split with 50% spent working in the classroom and labs, and 50% spent conducting field work at avalanche sites. The course will generally run from 8:00 to 17:30, with daily assignments requiring evening work in the air photo lab. A significant amount of pre-course reading and assignments must be completed prior to course start. Refer to the sample schedule for course details.
Please note: There is a fair bit of driving on course and students are responsible for their own transportation. Class time is set aside to organize carpooling.

Visit the course calendar for course dates, locations, location-specific logistics information, and registration. 

Program Goals

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 and prove at time of registration:

  • CAA Avalanche Operations Level 1 certificate OR a Resource and Transportation Avalanche Management certificate; OR similar training and experience in a related field and can demonstrate good working knowledge of the avalanche phenomenon and mapping principles;1
  • 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.

1 For those with similar training and experience, you can apply to waive the prerequisite using the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) application. Please see the details of this option on the PLA Application webpage.


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

Registration Process

If you have met the prerequisites listed above then you may register online for the course of your choice (if available). Visit the course calendar for course dates, locations, location-specific logistical information, and registration.


Full payment for the Snow Avalanche Mapping course will be taken at time of registration.


You will be required to upload a scan or JPEG of the following document during your registration process. Without them you will be unable to complete your registration.

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

*Applicants wishing to waive a prerequisite due to similar training and experience should apply to waive the prerequisite using the Prior Learning Assessment application. Please see the details of this option on the PLA Application webpage.

Course Fees and Funding Opportunities

The following are 2019-20 course fees and location: 


Nelson: $2026 


An additional $100 registration fee is applied to international students to account for shipping costs.


Full payment is due at time of registration.



The Avalanche Canada Foundation offers yearly scholarships for students for a variety of courses. There is also an Alberta job grant. Many local employment centres and/or SAR groups can also help with local funding opportunities.

Course Equipment and Materials

Upon registration all students will receive a confirmation e-mail that contains links to the course's logistics 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:

  • An Introduction to Snow Avalanche Mapping Student Manual
  • CAA's Technical Aspects of Snow Avalanche Risk Management (TASARM)

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.


Students will be required to download the following text who's link is supplied in the student manual:

  • Weir, P. (2002). Snow Avalanche Management in Forested Terrain, BC Ministry of Forestry. ISBN 0-7726-4881-6.

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

Pre-course readings, exercises, assignments and questions take time, 30+ hours, and must be completed prior to starting the course.


The Mapping course is a mixture of classroom and field based learning. Students will alternate between inside and outside daily. Please refer to the sample course equipment as a general guideline. There will be a venue specific equipment list, in your digital logistics letter you receive with registration, for what to bring to course. Make sure to read this list carefully and bring all mandatory items. 


Days on the Mapping course can be long and it is the student's responsibility to take care of their personal needs. This can include classroom snacks, proper clothing and ensuring they are well rested ready to learn.


Please note: There is a fair bit of driving on course and students are responsible for their own transportation. Class time is set aside to organize carpooling.


Use the sample course schedule to help anticipate daily needs.

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, receive a minimum of 71% on the final assignment, and a minimum overall grade of 71% to successfully complete the course. A passing grade results in the CAA Introduction to Avalanche Mapping certificate of completion being granted to the student.








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