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Catalog 2013-2014

Special Topics in Applied Science: Backcountry Skiing

  • Semester: Spring
  • Course Number: AS382
  • Instructors:
  • Credit: 3

Course Description

This course is designed to equip aspiring backcountry skiers with the skills and information needed to safely travel through and understand the winter environment. The course starts on gentle rolling terrain where diagonal stride is introduced and practiced. A steady progression to hilly terrain necessitates technique for ascending and descending. Concurrent with instruction on skiing technique is an introduction to "winter" as an environmental condition in which snow cover and sub-freezing temperatures are defining elements and primary consideration in terms of comfort and safety. Formal avalanche training (AAA level 1 curriculum) will be a fundamental part of the course. Students will learn about the contribution of terrain, weather, snowpack and the human factor to avalanche hazards. They will also learn to evaluate potential risks and effectively initiate self-rescue. The teaching format involves both experiential and presentation based instruction. Outings are mostly day trips into the mountains from rustic cabin or yurt styled accommodations. One short snow camping experience is planned where students will learn to construct their own snow shelters. An array of other topics will be covered, including temperature regulation; winter survival; history of skiing; equipment design, care and repair; winter natural history; snow camping; cold stress and ailments; nutritional requirements; and practical weather forecasting.