Kirkwood Mountain Resort runs a full slate of backcountry avalanche training through Expedition Kirkwood, which provides an opportunity for skiers and riders to hone their avalanche skills. The programs, taught under the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) curriculum, are offered in several levels at various times throughout the winter.

Free 90-minute beacon clinics are offered at 10 a.m. the first Sunday of every month. The sessions take place at the Beacon Basin Training site. Transceivers are available for practice, but pre-registration is required.

Those who are looking for a brief introduction to avalanche education can take a four-hour Backcountry Awareness Course. The course focuses on avalanche awareness and avoidance, equipment usage, snow observations, and safe terrain travel techniques-information that is equally applicable inside or outside resort boundaries. Classes, which cost $50 for passholders and $80 with a lift ticket included, are scheduled for Dec. 31, Jan. 8, Feb. 20, and March 6.

Expedition Kirkwood is also running several AIARE Avalanche Level 1 courses this winter. The courses require three full days to cover hazard management, preparations for trips, basic decision-making in the field, and rescue techniques. The second day is spent on the slopes inbounds. The courses--which are offered Jan. 15-17, Feb. 4-6, Feb. 25-27, and March 4-6--cost $300 for passholders and $320 for those who need a lift ticket.

An AIARE Avalanche Level 2 course is also available Feb. 18-21. It advances the education from the Level 1 course. The four-day program costs $425 for passholders and $465 for those who need lift tickets.

Reservations should be made as early as possible for avalanche courses as AIARE courses limit the number of students per instructor. Contact Expedition Kirkwood to register for classes.

More information. Or call 209-258-7360.