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Jim Frankenfield

Avalanche Safety Courses and Services

1338 Foothill Dr. #170; Salt Lake City, UT 84108
1-877-604-0166; Contact Me Online

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Useful Avalanche Safety Information

Note that this information, although updated, still reflects the traditional course format used in the past (and available upon request). It does not reflect the new online approach in any detail. Better information on the new and current approach can be found elsewhere on my own site here, on my AlpenPro business site, or best of all in the Avalanche Institute.


The course cost includes two nights shared accommodation. These classes are very intensive and include evening sessions. I have found it best, as well as convenient for students, if everyone stays together for the duration of the course. This also helps students work together as a group, which is important if group dynamics/management and human factors are to be covered effectively.

The cost includes a short set of preliminary notes and the full AlpenPro course handbook.

The curriculum is designed to be consistent with the current guidelines of the American Avalanche Association, which assume three day courses (24 instructional hours). Both courses are a full weekend or few days. Arrive well rested and don't bring the office with you!


My standard recreational courses use the AlpenPro materials. Level 1 is well established and fully compatible with the American Avalanche Association guidelines.

There is a student handbook for each class. Every student receives a copy as part of the course, at no additional charge. The student handbook is constantly updated, and some items included in it are unique to the specific location of the course while other items are unique to AlpenPro. It is not a "finished product" which is sold to other instructors for a profit, only to be infrequently updated and quoted blindly. There is an accompanying Instructor handbook as well, which is used in all AlpenPro courses.

Basic Avalanche Classes (Level I)

This course covers how to travel safely; self-rescue including the use of transceivers; basic weather, terrain and snowpack considerations; human factors such as communication and risk perception; hazard recognition through observations; and sound decision making and group management processes. Students spend the weekend learning and working together as a team on various exercises, both indoors and in the field.

All participants will receive a letter or certificate of completion unless they leave prior to the end of the course. There is no test or formal assessment in the tradtionally formatted course. Documentation can be provided at any time after course completion with no expiration, although the certificate does show the dates the course was taken. Certificates can be provided to the student or directly to an employer or other organization as requested.

[More Details] - "Standard" Version
[Additional Details] - Climbers version

Advanced Avalanche Classes - (Level II)

I no longer offer a Level II course. Specialized courses covering certain topics or oriented towards certain groups or applications can be arranged upon request.

At this point in time the standard "Level II" curriculum is widely assumed to be the one used by AIARE. This was prepared by guides, is used to train guides, and covers topics important to guiding. It is heavy on taking proper observations and properly recording data. (However, if you ask most instructors what the actual basis for the interpretation of this data is you will rarely find them knowledgeable about the underlying research, its limitations, or its strengths and weaknesses.) The result is that Level II courses now require a great deal of time and cost a great deal of money but fail to offer a return commensurate with this investment to recreationalists. I highly recommend this route for professional training, and in fact it may be hard to progress any other way. I do not recommend it for people whose interest in recreational in nature. (Or scientific, for that matter.)

With the advent of online education there will be advanced topics available through the Avalanche Instititute and my own efforts will be directed towards supporting that approach. This will allow students to take individual topics that interest them, and each one will be modest in its time and financial requirements. This is much better suited to the continuing education requirements of average recreationalists.

Other Classes

Other classes are often offered for particular groups. These can be tailored to the needs and interests of the group, and can be held anywhere. They range from very basic to scientific/research level.


All traditional courses are now by private arrangement. Any group of at least four may arrange a class at the times and locations of their choice. Courses have been privately arranged at locations throughout the western US in the past.

[Arranging a class]

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