California Institute of Technology

Caltech Avalanche Course - Update: Extra Weekend Added!

sponsored by: Caltech Alpine Club & Moore-Hufstedler Fund

You have time to realize that you are going to die.
-- Claire, on being caught in an avalanche

Date and Location: This course will be offered over two weekends:
March 23-25, 2007, for up to 16 participants.
March 30-April 1, 2007, for up to 8 participants.
Both courses will be held in Bishop, CA.

Directions and Meeting Time: The first morning of the course we will meet at 8:00AM at the White Mountain Research Station. Directions: In Bishop, Line St. is an east/west street marked by the southern-most traffic light on Main St./Highway 395 in town. To get to WMRS, head east from this intersection on Line St. for approximately 4 miles, crossing the Owens River Bridge several miles out of town. About a half mile after the Owens River bridge, WMRS is on the right. We'll be in one of the two classrooms that are through the gate, slightly to the right as you walk through.

Description: This three-day course will cover the basics of avalanches. You will learn: how avalanches form and release; different types and characteristics of avalanches; how to travel to avoid avalanches; how to evaluate avalanche conditions in the backcountry; and how to rescue someone buried in an avalanche. The course will be a mixture of classroom lecture and real practice in the snow.

The course will be taught by two instructions from the Sierra Mountain Center (of Bishop, CA). Here is more information about this course, including itinerary and equipment list. Fourteen members of the Caltech community may participate in this course.

Registration: So you want to sign up for the course -- here's what you do:

  • Complete this application form: pdf or doc. Send it (paper copy only) to Sean Tulin, MC 106-38, by Wed, Feb 14. All applicants will be notified about the success of their application by Tues, Feb 20. Participants will be selected based on their applications -- specifically, their involvement within the Caltech outdoor community, their passion for the outdoors, and the benefit that this course will have in their lives.
  • If your application is successful, you will be invited to register for the course. To register, you must submit a completed waiver (waiver.pdf), medform (medform.pdf) and $100 deposit (fully refunded only upon successful completion of the course), made payable to the Caltech Alpine Club. Both must be sent to Sean Tulin, MC 106-38, by Fri, Feb 23, or else your spot will be forfeit to someone else.
  • If there is no room for you in the course, you will be put on a wait-list. If someone declines to register, then you may have the opportunity to sign up.

    Cost: The course fee is fully subsidized by the Moore-Hufstedler Fund. (It normally costs $350/person!) However, you will be required to submit a $100 deposit which will be fully refunded after the course. If you do not fully complete the course (say you decide to go bouldering instead halfway through), then you will forfeit your deposit. In addition, you must pay for your own food, transportation, and lodging expenses. You must also make sure that you have and bring everything on the equipment list; if you don't have something, you must borrow or buy it. However, beacons, shovels, probes, and saws will be provided by SMC for free, if you don't own them. In addition, snowshoes can be rented from SMC, REI in Arcadia, Wilson's in Bishop, or the Caltech Y.

    Lodging: There are several lodging options in Bishop. All of the standard camping options are described in the FREE Rockfax online guide Staying in Bishop. The recommended option is camping at The Pit, which costs $2/vehicle/night. If the Pit is full (as it may be in March), also recommended is the nearby Pleasant Valley Campground ($10/night/vehicle). If you prefer a real bed, dorm-style accommodations are available for think) $21/person/night at the White Mountain Research Station (which is conveniently where we will be meeting every morning). If you want to stay here, you must make your own reservations: call Denise at 760.873.4344. The WMRS has sheets and towels available, but you must also bring a sleeping bag.

    Pre-course meeting: There will be a pre-course meeting sometime in the week before the first course. At the meeting, participants will be able to meet one another to coordinate rides and lodging arrangements. This meeting is not mandatory -- if you would like to make your own lodging and transportation arrangements, then that is fine.


    Course 1: Mar 23 - 25
    1. Sean
    2. Stephen
    3. Karen
    4. Barbara
    5. Shane
    6. Wayne
    7. Ian
    8. Daniel
    9. Denis
    10. Kyle
    11. Stefan
    12. Mary Laura
    13. Jeandrew
    14. Justus
    15. Alex
    16. Clement

    Course 2: Mar 30 - Apr 1
    1. Antonin
    2. Ute
    3. Claire
    4. Ilya
    5. Natalia
    6. Chih-Kai
    7. Brian
    8. Adina

    Questions: contact Sean (tulin at caltech).

    More information: Here are some links:
    Sierra Mountain Center
    Caltech Alpine Club
    Moore-Hufstedler Fund