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Are you Avy Savvy?: This new tool teaches backcountry beginners about avalanches

'Avy Savvy provides a great first step in avalanche safety education'

Calling all beginner winter outdoor enthusiasts.

Before heading out to enjoy the snowy backcountry mountain trails across the North Shore and B.C. this season, Canada's avalanche safety organization is strongly advising people to get ‘Avy Savvy.’

Avalanche Canada has launched a new online tutorial for backcountry beginners that provides a solid introduction to avalanche safety. 

Gilles Valade, Avalanche Canada’s executive director, said it’s vital for anyone venturing into the winter backcountry to have a full appreciation of the challenges involved.

“Travelling in avalanche terrain demands awareness and preparation,” he said in a release.

“Avy Savvy provides a great first step in avalanche safety education.”

The educational tool teaches beginners the basics about avalanche safety fundamentals, what an avalanche is and where they happen, companion rescue and the avalanche terrain exposure scale.

It also introduces outdoor enthusiasts to Avalanche Canada’s other resources, including the daily trip planner and avalanche forecast.

Valade said the non-profit organization had had an online tutorial for many years, but with the pandemic increasing backcountry use, the group recognized an opportunity to improve the program.

“We used a new platform and emphasized user engagement and interactivity,” he said, highlighting that videos, images, animations, and interactive quizzes all helped the learning process.

“Our team has been working hard on this all summer, and I’m very proud that we are able to provide yet another significant and science-based tool for winter backcountry users.”

Avalanche Canada also runs several avalanche safety courses on weekends. For outdoor enthusiasts just starting out, the appropriate course is AST 1.