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Welcome to Backcountry Basics They Didn’t Teach You in Avy 1, a backcountry skiing and safety course designed by legendary big mountain skier and AMGA-certified guide Mike Hattrup.
Whether you head to the backcountry once or twice each season or you consider yourself a veteran, the goal of this course is to help you become a more-informed backcountry traveler and more comfortable with the risk you inherently accept once you leave the trailhead.
This course assumes that you already have some familiarity with backcountry skiing and basic avalanche awareness. This course is not a replacement for an accredited avalanche education course like the AIARE Level 1.Section divider
Meet Your Guide
Mike Hattrup is a bonafide skiing legend, known both for his prowess as a skier and for his contribution to the industry at large. Best known for his starring roles in classic ski films including Greg Stump’s “Blizzard of Aahhhh’s,” Hattrup got his start as a mogul competitor on the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team. But the silver screen lured him away from the confines of mogul courses and into big mountain terrain.
While filming in Chamonix, France, he became captivated by the terrain beyond the resort boundaries, which led to him becoming one of the first certified AMGA Ski Mountaineering Guides. He’s also a member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, Black Diamond’s ski director, and he’s guided clients in the U.S., Canada, South America, Norway, and the European Alps.
Giving back has always been important to Hattrup. After his team won the Ford Sport Trac Challenge adventure race, he donated his $25,000 winnings to the American Mountain Guiding Association to create an endowment that provides ongoing tuition for guide education.
A local of Sun Valley, Idaho, Hattrup spends as much time skiing and guiding in the backcountry of the Sawtooths as possible.
Throughout the course, you’ll see Hattrup’s ski partner and friend, Peter Krainz. Krainz founded Rocky Mountain Guides in 1992, and has more than 30 years of backcountry skiing and guiding experience. He’s guided in the Alps, the Tetons, and in numerous areas around Summit County, Colo. He received his IFMGA full certification in 1986, is an Austrian-certified and a PSIA-certified ski instructor, and has taught for the Keystone Ski School since 1988. When he is not in the mountains, he can be found performing with his Austrian folk music ensemble “Those Austrian Guys” at Oktoberfests and other events all over the country, or playing jazz piano with his trio, “Jazzwerks.”Section divider
How to Navigate This Course
This course consists of text, photos, and videos to help you better understand each lesson and how to be a safer backcountry skier. Along the way, we’ll also include a few downloadable documents to help you better plan your ski tours. All of these components are designed to work together to help you prepare for your backcountry missions, so take advantage of them all throughout the course.
You can go back and revisit lessons at any point while progressing forward with the course. We suggest bookmarking the course landing page to more easily navigate to a given section at a later time.Section divider
Assumptions and Disclaimer
This course is no substitute for an AIARE Level 1 course. It is designed to be taken after you’ve familiarized yourself with basic avalanche safety and rescue protocols. This course is supplemental and builds on the prerequisite knowledge you gain in a formal avalanche education introduction course. In this course, you’ll dig deeper into terrain analysis, reading avalanche reports, and learn valuable pointers for planning ski tours and navigating the backcountry safely.
About two-thirds of backcountry injuries aren’t avalanche-related. Instead, it’s the other stuff like knee injuries, making bad decisions, and not being physically fit or prepared for weather. This course addresses some of those risks, but it is not meant to serve as a comprehensive, stand-alone backcountry skiing primer. We strongly encourage any skier who wants to spend time in the backcountry to seek formal education through accredited organizations like the American Avalanche Association.
Now a word from our legal team
Backcountry skiing is inherently dangerous. We can’t guarantee that the lessons in this course are safe for every individual. Any liabilities associated with this course are expressly disclaimed.