January 14, 2014 Avalanche Education, Backcountry Skiing, Williams Peak HutIt’s mid-January, and we’re full steam ahead on our avalanche education programs and guided ski trips.In early January, we hosted an American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Level 2 Instructor Training Course at Smiley Creek Lodge. This 3-day course is for aspiring Level 2 course instructors and was well attended by a number of out of state avalanche pros. SMG owner/guide Erik Leidecker helped teach the program and shared his 20 years experience as a ski guide and avalanche instructor.Last weekend we wrapped up our third of eight AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Courses this season. We love these courses because they focus on the essential information for making safe backcountry decisions. Rather than diving heavily in snow science, we focus on the critical skills and observations folks need to make good, safe decisions in avalanche terrain. They are truly rewarding for us…this was brought home recently when one of Sara Lundy‘s past students made a live avalanche recovery in the Grizzly Gulch avalanche incident in Utah.We’ve already had some awesome folks in this season’s courses: we did a private Level 1 for three couples, a course for a group of Wood River Valley hardcores, and our last group was a fantastic mix of people that gelled like they were old friends. And we’re looking forward to all the great people we still have to meet.There’s no doubt that up until recently, the snow conditions have been lean. This all changed last weekend when a northwesterly storm walloped Galena, the Sawtooths, and Banner Summit. Our mountains picked up one to nearly three feet of snow, and the cold finish left the powder extra light. It’s time to get out and enjoy it – our first Powder Patrol of the season runs tomorrow!Hope you’ve all enjoyed the first part of the winter…so what’s next?