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Avalanche Education Report

New Report: Avalanche Education’s Significant Impact on Backcountry Safety

DENVER, COLORADO – A landmark study by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) and Eastern Oregon University has revealed the positive impact of avalanche education on safety behaviors in the backcountry. This pioneering research, involving nearly 1,700 participants of AIARE recreational avalanche courses over three winters, marks the first formal evaluation of its kind by an American avalanche education organization.

Key Report Findings:

  • Increased Rescue Practice: 61% of course graduates reported more frequent practice of avalanche rescue skills, using essential rescue gear in simulated scenarios one to two times per season post-course.
  • Improved Planning and Communication: Participants showed a higher frequency of checking communication gear (e.g., cell phones, satellite devices), reviewing emergency plans, and informing someone about their travel plans after the course.
  • Enhanced Safety Protocols: There was a notable increase in the practice of avalanche safety protocols, such as choosing safer travel techniques, recognizing unstable conditions, and reviewing decisions at the end of the day.


These behavioral changes are crucial for ensuring safety in winter backcountry environments.

Avalanche Education Report Snowmobilers

Impact and Future Implications:

AIARE’s Executive Director Vickie Hormuth highlighted the significance of this study in setting a benchmark for evaluating the effectiveness of their curriculum and enhancing it further. Education Director Liz Riggs Meder emphasized the role of this study in developing more effective programming and encouraging wider participation in backcountry safety courses. Dr. Kelly McNeil, lead researcher at Eastern Oregon University, noted that the results provide valuable insights into the impact of avalanche education on safety in the backcountry.

About AIARE:

AIARE has been a leader in avalanche education since 1998, offering high-quality, best-practice-based curriculum in snow science and education. With over 115 providers nationwide, AIARE has educated over 90,000 students in the past eight seasons, offering more than 1,500 courses for the 2023-2024 winter season​​.

Avalanche Awareness and Safety Tips

  • Stay Educated: Enroll in an avalanche education course to learn about snow science and safe travel techniques.
  • Practice Rescue Skills: Regularly practice with your avalanche rescue gear and simulate rescue scenarios.
  • Plan and Communicate: Always plan your trip meticulously, carry necessary communication devices, and inform someone about your travel plans.
  • Observe and Adapt: Pay attention to signs of unstable conditions and be willing to alter your plans accordingly.
  • Review and Reflect: At the end of each day, review your decisions and learn from them for future trips.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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