Using the AAI Checklist to Plan Your Backcountry Ski Touring
May 1, 2020
Don Carpenter, co-owner of the AAI and lead instructor, drove the creation of the Backcountry Checklist because backcountry terrain is a complex environment. It is also a high-risk environment, with high consequences if something goes wrong.
Experienced backcountry travelers will do most of the things on this checklist automatically, but perhaps not all. It’s easy to skip a step when planning, especially without something to guide you.
Therefore, the AAI Checklist is a tool to make better decisions, increase communication, and avoid skipping a step. The checklist is simple and small, it fits in your jacket pocket.
In addition, the AAI checklist has been tested and fine-tuned on every backcountry adventure we’ve set out on.
The ‘Swiss cheese model’, shown by Don in the video, visually displays how there are several different layers in your backcountry tour planning.
These range from pre-trip planning to the post-trip discussion and are in place to help you avoid a bad outcome.
Reviewing the AAI checklist is just one of the steps in your avalanche education journey. Prior to using it in real-time, you should have already taken at least an Avalanche Level 1 Course.
Avalanche education should be ongoing to keep these fundamental processes fresh in your mind. However, once you are ready for your first ski tour, the AAI Checklist is a great place to start.
In your pre-trip planning, you will be discussing the following with your partner BEFORE you head out for your tour:
After you return from the field, you’ll want to make time to de-brief with your travel companion.
So before you head out the door, keep in mind that reviewing the AAI checklist is just one of the steps to learning how to travel in avalanche terrain. You should have already taken at least an Avalanche Level 1 Course.
Are you interested in further improving your snow safety knowledge and staying sharp for your next backcountry adventure? Check out our current course offerings:
We are proud supporters of the American Avalanche Association. A3 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to professional excellence in avalanche safety, education, and research in the United States.