Mountain Academy Offers Online Backcountry Education


Salomon and Atomic have announced the launch of Mountain Academy, an initiative that would increase mountain safety education through a new online platform.

The launch came as an announcement during the 2015 Outdoor Retailer trade show, offering a curriculum centered around snow safety that is taught by mountain experts.

“Through a series of high-quality videos, pictures, animations and self-tests, Mountain Academy students gain fundamental knowledge in snowpack variables, identifying different types of avalanches, basic information about rescue tools and techniques,” the press release states.

The Academy is offered through a partnership between AIARE, the Utah Avalanche Center, the Northwest Avalanche Center and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, among other avalanche education partners.  Those wishing to take part can either pay $29 per course or purchase a product from Atomic Backland and Automatic or Salomon Quest and MTN, writes Louise Lintinhac for Backcountry Magazine.  All proceeds go to the Mountain Academy Fund which offers funding to forecasting centers and avalanche organizations around the world.

The program includes two courses offered online, the first of which, Snow Safety Essentials, takes a closer look at participants’ knowledge of basic out-of-bounds terrain and snow dangers.  The second, Deeper Into the Backcountry, teaches users how to manage terrain while in the backcountry as well as examining the risks involved in doing so.

The first course was created to educate beginners or offer a refresher to those who already have experience with backcountry travel.  The course focuses on the risks associated with such travel, offering information pertaining to snow safety, equipment needed, and dangers that may exist, as well as how to avoid them.

The second course, a continuation of the first, offers more in-depth information pertaining to types of snow, avalanche situations, and terrain characteristics that exist in backcountry travel, writes Sean McCoy for GearJunkie.

Evin Catlett, senior digital marketing manager for Salomon and Atomic in the Americas, said the knowledge handed out through the course was important for the company to offer as they continue to put out new equipment to help people access the backcountry terrain.

Other similar programs are being created, including the Know Before You Go program and the Avalanche Project, which focus on introductory avalanche and backcountry education for skiers and riders before they can participate in an Avy Level 1 class.

Although Mountain Academy participants cannot receive the same certification they do through an AIARE course, the program acts as a stepping stone for learning backcountry etiquette and safety.

According to the press release, the program is not meant to replace safety training, but instead should accompany it. Participants are encouraged to sign up for in-person classes in their own location.