Two sessions left in free avalanche workshop series


Tahoe Mountain School, located in the Safeway shopping center
Elizabeth White

A free avalanche education series that started this week will have two more sessions in November.

Hosted by Tahoe Mountain Sports and Ortovox, the series will teach the basics of safe backcountry travel. These workshops will be for those who use the backcountry in the winter, whether it be skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling.

The sessions will be held at at Alibi, 10069 Bridge St., Truckee.

“The best part of our series is that each event is a standalone event. They can build on each other, but you can show up to one or show up to all three. You’ll learn something at each one and there will always be something different.” said co-owner of Tahoe Mountain Sports, David Polivy.

Each event will have different speakers and will touch on separate topics. All events will be held outdoors at Alibi, and attendees are instructed to dress appropriately for cold temperatures.


The first workshop, held Tuesday, covered backcountry decision making. Avalanche safety experts from the Sierra Avalanche Center — Travis Feist and Daryl Teittinen, the latter of whom is an AIARE instructor at Sierra Nevada University — presented the Sierra Avalanche Center’s risk management plan for a day in the snowy Sierra.


6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2

The second event will cover the uses of a beacon, shovel, and probe, which are the essentials in backcountry safety, along with airbag packs, another life-saving, but optional, tool, should an avalanche occur. Presenters will begin with a discussion on the functions of a beacon — how to quickly and efficiently use a shovel and probe, and considerations when purchasing gear. Attendees will be able to test beacons at the end of the night and practice skills in a search and rescue scenario. After which representatives from sponsoring brands will demonstrate different airbag packs and their various features. Those who own airbags are encouraged to bring them along to the event as there will be a group airbag deployment as well as free canister refills for Ortovox, Mammut, and BCA canisters. Tahoe Mountain School is not able to offer free exchange for ABS canisters.

A raffle for this event will go toward Tahoe Backcountry Alliance, the voice for winter recreation in the Truckee and Tahoe region. The organization focuses on advocacy, access and infrastructure for the backcountry community.


6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30

The third event will build on avalanche safety tools discussed in the second event, covering more topics on beacons, shovels, probes, and airbags. Professionals from Tahoe Mountain School and Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue will explain the intricacies of a search and rescue. After these presentations, attendees will divide into groups and practice their avalanche rescue skills using beacons. There will also be Garmin and Caltopo stations for those who would like to learn about navigation and mapping for safety while in the backcountry.

For this event, all proceeds from the raffle will go toward Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue — a volunteer organization in the Truckee and North Lake Tahoe area that rescues or recovers those who are stranded or harmed in the winter backcountry.

The backcountry has seen a dramatic increase in traffic ever since the ski resorts shut down in 2020 — with backcountry gear flying off the shelves and a high demand for AIARE courses.

“Anytime you have more people recreating in terrain that is challenging and unpredictable, you’re bound to have heightened safety and traffic issues. It’s really important to be aware of your surroundings, your group, and group dynamics, whether you’re going up or down, so you don’t get into trouble.” said Polivy.

Elizabeth White is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at

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