Utah Avalanche Center Releases New ‘Know Before You Go’ Program

AvyBrains | BackcountryBackcountry | AvalancheAvalanche

It’s October. The days are shortening. The weather’s cooling. Snow is going to start falling sooner than you know it. It’s time to dust the cobwebs off your avalanche brain and get it working again.

A backcountry course raises your awareness of a multitude of factors concerning snow and wind patterns and navigating avalanche terrain. It helps in allowing you to make safer decisions for both you and those touring in the terrain around you. It’s important. It’s necessary. Luckily for you, the Utah Avalanche Center (UAC) has a completely free Know Before You Go avalanche awareness course that it just revamped and reupdated to help you make safe decisions in the backcountry this winter.

The UAC, along with Avalanche Canada, Colorado Avalanche Information Center, National Avalanche Center, and Northwest Avalanche Center has spent the last 18 months rebuilding the Know Before You Go program from the ground up. The new program is now available on kbyg.org.

The new KBYG program is completely free and consists of four new components:

  • A website (kbyg.org) to be used as a resource hub for anyone who is looking for information about avalanches and avalanche education
  • A presentation that includes video and interactivity to increase audience engagement
  • Online learning courses to be used to learn more after a KBYG presentation, prepare a person for an on-snow class, or as a season refresher
  • A feature-length film about how avalanches can impact a person’s life, which will debut on the last night of the Banff Mountain Film Festival on November 6.

The goals of the program are to:

  • Provide accessible and far-reaching avalanche awareness
  • Introduce avalanches as events in nature and as dangers
  • Motivate people to learn more about avalanches

Since its release in 2004, KBYG has become the North American standard for teaching avalanche awareness. With the new release, the UAC hopes to reach more people with this important safety message and focus on ensuring that attendees are not only learning but also retaining the information taught.

The course is described as either a foundation to the Avy 1 or a refresher for those who’ve previously taken a course, is almost identical to AIAIRE standards, and is 100% free to the public. Use it to help prepare for a Level 1 class or if you just need a refresher this season. The course focuses on the essential info required to get you out on the mountain.

The course is broken down into five steps:

  1. Get the Forecast
  2. Get the Gear
  3. Get the Training
  4. Get the Picture (we combined get the picture and get out of harm’s way)

Definitely check out the new online course on kbyg.org.

Digging snow pits is a good way to test the quality of the snow and the potential for an avalanche.
Digging a snow pit (as shown) is a method to test the potential for a slide and is taught in an avalanche safety course. Image: Snow Safety & Consulting

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