Introduction to Snow Avalanche Mapping

Introduction to Snow Avalanche Mapping

Intro Mapping

“The digital mapping day was excellent. Some formal instruction on Google Earth, coupled with GPS line work and polygons, formalized techniques I have been playing with for a while. Definitely a good day.” Jeff Honig - Ops Manager, Selkirk Tangiers Helicopter Skiing

This six-day course provides an introduction to snow avalanche mapping for individuals working or interested in working in the avalanche risk management industry.

This course is designed for people 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.

50% of the course time will be spent working in the classroom and labs. The other half of the course will be spent conducting field work at avalanche sites in the nearby area. The course will generally run from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with daily assignments requiring evening work in the air photo lab. Refer to the Sample Schedule under "Related Links" for details.

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

Program Goals

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Evaluate avalanche terrain using topographic maps;
  • Apply alternative technologies to avalanche terrain mapping;
  • Conduct relevant field work;
  • Analyze climate data;
  • Analyze avalanche occurrence data;
  • Estimate avalanche frequency and magnitude;
  • Present data;
  • Work in a team environment to accomplish mapping objectives.


Applicants must have:

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

*refer to the Prior Learning Assessment form under the Training:Student Resources tab

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


On-line registration opens in early May. To register, click on the “Register now!” button in the right sidebar. Note that full payment is taken at the time of registration.

NEW: You will be required to upload a scan of the following document during your registration process. Without it you will be unable to complete your registration. A scan can be a legible digital photo of the required document. A scan is needed of:


Tuition is $1642 per student.

An additional $100 registration fee is applied to International Students.

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, and receive 71% or more on the final assignment in order to receive a certificate.

Course Equipment & Materials

Refer to Sample Course Equipment under "Related Links" for an example of student equipment needs.

A course manual is included as part of the tuition for the course and includes course notes, pre-course assignments, exercises, and the CAA's Land Manager’s Guide to Snow Avalanche Hazards in Canada. The  pre-course materials must be completed prior to starting the course. Students will be required to download the following text supplied in the student manual.

Weir, P. (2002). Snow Avalanche Management in Forested Terrain, BC Ministry of Forestry. ISBN 0-7726-4881-6. The download link is supplied in the student manual.

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. Click on the title of each text and you can purchase these resources through our online store.

related links

course dates

If courses are full, contact the CAA to be put on a waiting list ( and a general e-mail will be sent out to those on the waitlist when a spot becomes open.