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Backcounry Basics: Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain – February 19, 2020

Registration for all Mountain Festival events close 48 hours ahead of time. Participants for each event are emailed at this time with tour location, etc. Please remember that all events are held in and around North Lake Tahoe but exact specifics will be shared 48 hours ahead of time to assess snow quality and safety.

February 19 @ 8:00 am - 2:00 pm

Available 4 Refundable Deposit $50


CA United States + Google Map
Led By:

Tristan Sieleman

Tail Guide(s)

Jan Czyzewski


Perhaps you’ve taken some Mountain Festival events but are yearning for more in-the-field education. When faced with a fresh powder run, do you know where to safely descend in order to avoid avalanche hazards? Or maybe you are the first to arrive at a backcountry trailhead and are faced with putting in the uptrack that hundreds of fellow skiers and riders will use. Do you know how to read the terrain in order to put the uptrack in a safe and efficient manner?

Avalanche rescue (beacon use, probe and excavation technique) sometimes gets a lot of the backcountry educational fanfare, but there are other safety considerations that are equally as important. One vital aspect of safe and efficient backcountry travel is group decision making when IN avalanche terrain. In this “Backcountry Basics: Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain,” AMGA guide Tristan Sieleman will show you how to mitigate avalanche risk by making conservative and educated decisions while in the backcountry. This Backcountry Basics avalanche safety workshop will consist of a short classroom session followed by a short tour. Participants will put the lessons learned in the classroom to use in the field as a collective group.

This Backcountry Basics workshop is geared for skiers and riders of all ability levels.

Mountain Festival Backcountry Basics workshops are designed to give beginners and intermediates a comfortable, safe and educational introduction into what it means to be a responsible backcountry skier/rider. There are several types of Backcountry Basics workshops: some are 100% classroom-based, some have a mix of classroom and field components and some are conducted 100% in the field during while short mini-tours. While jumping directly into a beginner tour is perhaps more glamorous than an educational workshop, we feel strongly that beginner and intermediate backcountry skiers and riders need a solid foundational skill set BEFORE heading into the field.

At Mountain Festival, our goal is to make sure that beginners and intermediates have an opportunity to build the requisite skill set in order to be responsible, safe and efficient backcountry travelers. Please note that Backcountry Basics workshops are significantly different than a beginner tour. Those new to the sport are STRONGLY encouraged to register for Backcountry Basics workshops BEFORE joining any beginner tour.

In addition to the skill development component of our Backcountry Basics workshops, we also feel strongly about educating those new to the sport about issues that transcends in-the-field skills, namely leave-no-trace ethics, skin track AND parking etiquette, human-powered access issues, climate change and more. Not only will you depart a Backcountry Basics workshop with an enhanced skill set, you will be made aware of some very pressing issues affecting the backcountry landscape in Lake Tahoe.


**Please note that this a classroom-based workshop and does not have ANY field component. Accordingly you will not need touring equipment but we still encourage you to bring your avalanche safety gear.**

Equipment Requirements:

  • Avalanche Safety Items: Beacon, Shovel, Probe


Discounted demo equipment will be made available to registered participants via email by mid January. ​
Participants must possess their own avalanche safety equipment (beacon, shovel, probe, pack) and requisite backcountry touring gear (skis, splitboards, bindings, boots, skins, poles, etc.) Please no snowshoes, metal-edge (fish-scale) touring equipment, or dogs.

Sponsored by Black Diamond

*PLEASE NOTE! In the spirit of inclusivity we are limiting participants to four tours. This does not include workshops, Backcountry Basics, etc. Registration for most events requires a deposit, which varies from $25-$100, that is refunded upon participation. Cancellations are not allowed after February 1st and all calendar adjustments prior to February 1st are subject to a $10 adjustment fee. Any excess garnered from the cancellation policy will be donated to Protect Our Winters and the Tahoe Backcountry Alliance.

**Please also note that you will be sent a complete equipment list for each individual event by the middle of January. Additionally, if you have registered for any backcountry tour you will be contacted 72 hours prior to the tour with the exact location. This is irrelevant if your chosen tour stipulates a location, but for others we want to assess the snow and avalanche conditions for others closer to the event. The goal is to show you the best time possible which requires a decision closer to each tour.


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Avalanche Safety
Mountain Festival

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