The avalanche center can be for a region you have been to previously, plan to visit in the future, hope to visit in your dreams, or just totally random. (If you have no preference, then Utah has an interesting mix of weather and snow conditions, with an outstandingly clear presentation.)
The more knowledge though you have of the terrain details, the better ... and for reasons that should be obvious given much of the course's focus!
Prepare a written and oral presentation that addresses the following questions:
- What are your goals (generally speaking) for these two daytrips?
- What are your safety concerns (once again, generally speaking)?
- In a typical season at this time of year, what are some general characterizations of the region’s snowpack?
- What has the snowpack been like so far this season for the region? Include snowfall amounts, snowpack levels, data from recent weather events, notable avalanche cycles and incidents.
- For the first day of the two-day period you selected, before you read the avalanche bulletin for that morning, what are you expectations?
- Now read the avalanche bulletin: how did the forecast match up with your expectations?
- What are your specific travel plans and associated concerns for backcountry (or “sidecountry”) skiing that day? Who are your partners? How familiar are all of you with the terrain? Do you have appealing and accessible alternatives?
- Repeat the preceding steps for the following day.
If the avalanche bulletin does not already do so, create a simplified avalanche danger rose, showing the rating by aspect and elevation.
Also identify the relevant avalanche "Problems" for which you can use this spreadsheet version of the new AIARE Avalanches and Observations Reference.
For each "Problem" separate out on a five-point scale the Probability (with "Likely" and "Unlikely" at opposite ends of the scale) and "Size" (with "Large" and "Small" at opposite ends of the scale).
And identify the Trend over the next 24 hours (either Increasing Danger, Same, or Decreasing Danger).
Prepare a touring plan, including a marked-up map showing your routes for both ascent (in green) and descent (in red), using an online mapping tool such as CalTopo, or USGS quad pdf files can be downloaded for free (and modified with the free TerraGo Toolbar).
Utilize the Decision-Making Framework and "STOP" series of questions as referenced in the assigned Volken backcountry skiing book.
Complete a section of either your own field book or these sample pages from the 2012 AIARE field book.
You can also use this slope angle estimation tool.
And try to obtain aerial imagery from different aspects and angles, especially from Google Earth.
This must all be contained a single pdf file, to be emailed to the Instructor of Record (by the deadline noted in the student checklist), who will then email it to your fellow students.
On the evening of the first day of the Module 2 Winter Field Sessions, you will present your touring plan to your fellow students as if you were all contemplating this tour (albeit with a smaller group size, and more familiarity among the group members), so the primary feedback will come from your fellow students.
Hence each student's completed assignment will constitute yet another assignment for all the other students.