An avalanche of important new knowledge

"Before this course, my avalanche knowledge was don't get caught in one, cause you can die," says Winter Olympian Jossi Wells, who is among a group of snowsport stars gaining expert insights into avalanche risk management through Otago Polytechnic.

Wells joined fellow Winter Olympians Migeul Porteous and Finn Bilous, Freeride World Tour competitor Craig Murray, Freeride World Tour Qualifier competitor Julian Hampton and Multisport athlete Hamish Fleming in a block course of practical avalanche assessments held in Wanaka last week.

The cohort are enrolled in the New Zealand Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management (Level 5) at Otago Polytechnic, the most experienced provider of avalanche education in New Zealand.

The 12-week course, which began in late April, provides participants with a solid understanding of theory, which is delivered online over 10 weeks and includes weekly web seminar sessions to answer questions and refine concepts. 

During this period, participants are also required to practise their on-snow skills. They then undertake one week of practical and assessment. This is followed by one week of reflection, during which they evaluate their next steps and plan any re-assessment as required. 

Learning outcomes include:

• Identifying and communicating potential avalanche hazards by applying knowledge of snowpack, weather, terrain and avalanche phenomena (30 credits)

• Mitigating risk to self by selecting and applying appropriate control methods while operating in avalanche terrain within scope of practice (5 credits)

• Participating as part of a small party rescue by applying appropriate avalanche search and rescue skills while mitigating risks (5 credits)

The qualification can lead to the New Zealand Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management (Level 6). 

Enrolments for the next 12-week programme, from 9 July to 30 September (Practical block course in Wanaka,16-22 September) are currently being wait-listed.

Watch coverage of Wells and company’s avalanche training on One News

Read more about our New Zealand Certificate in Avalanche Risk Management