Snow Stability Evaluation

This course takes an in-depth look at an advanced component of the decision making process, evaluating the stability of a slope. Under the guidance of a highly experienced instructor, students will observe the snowpack and practice a wide variety of stability evaluation tests, with a focus on doing them correctly, meaningfully, and safely. Stability evaluation will be placed into the context of one’s own decision making process, which will help students have the best information available when making a go-no-go decision. This is a "hands-in-the-snow" class; waterproof clothing is a must.

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Length: 8+ Hours
Guide-to-Client: 1:6
[Min. of 3 students]
Price: $125 per person
When: February 26, 2017


For this course we will be accessing the backcountry. If you own a touring setup or split board you are welcome to skin with the instructor and consequently ski or ride out at the end of the day. Please bring your own AT or Split Board setups as we do not have these available for rent. If you do not ski or ride, please plan to snowshoe - which can be rented from mtnGEAR.


For this course, you will need an Avalanche Beacon, Probe and Shovel. These items may be rented for $26.

Most of the required equipment is available for rent from our affiliate mtnGEAR. Workshop Participants will receive a 20% discount on all rental equipment and clothing.



This workshop is designed as a refresher for those who have completed at minimum AIARE Avalanche 1 course or comparable.
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Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes

At the end of the Snow Stability Evaluation Workshop the student should be able to:

  • Describe the common stability tests, their strengths and limitations
  • Choose an appropriate test at an appropriate location
  • Conduct stability tests efficiently and correctly
  • Interpret test results and understand their relationship to the decision making process

Instructional sessions (8+ hours field instruction).

  1. Review Most Common Stability Tests
  2. Understanding The Goals of Stability Testing
  3. The Snowpit/Testing Process
    • Choosing a Location
    • Equipment
    • Digging and Testing
  4. Interpretation of Results


Course Itinerary


8:00: Meet at Bunkhouse, Introductions and overview of agenda

8:30: Indoor sessions - Relevancy of snowpack observations,

10:00: Travel to field site, lunch

12:00: Field sessions - snowpack observations & tests

4:00-5:00: Return to Bunkhouse, review and debrief

Instructor Bio


Jeff began his career in the snow and avalanche world in 2002 working as a caretaker at the base of Tuckerman Ravine. In 2006, he earned a Master’s Degree in Outdoor Education and began work as a Snow Ranger for the Mount Washington Avalanche Center. Jeff's rescue experience goes beyond classes and training, he draws experience from several real-life incidents over the last 15 years of working and recreating in avalanche terrain, including some close calls of his own. He believes in the power of hands-on experiential education and will work with you to deepen your understanding and hone your skills.


NEMs Adventure itineraries are subject to change or be adjusted based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, group dynamics and many other factors. NEM has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including the discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program. We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, an NEM credit for the full value is given; however, NEM cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations). NEM reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip at any time if NEM determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program. This includes being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.


Northeast Mountaineering cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit or complete the objective you have signed up for. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities or the abilities of others may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party will have to turn around without reaching the summit. Your program fee entitles you to one mountain experience on your specified dates.


Most of our programs do not have a minimum enrollment. If you are the only one registered, it will likely become a private outing. For our Waterfall Rappelling adventure, we must have at least 50% enrollment (3 people) to run the adventure. In the event of low-enrollment, we will reschedule your adventure to another date. If another date cannot be accommodated, you will receive an NEM credit.


Safety is NEM’s number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in the mountains but they cannot eliminate them. NEM guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that maximize your experience without compromising the necessary margin of safety. Please clearly understand that mountaineering and all other mountain adventures are inherently hazardous sports. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of these sports, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in these activities.


Payment in full is due at the time of booking. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or check.


A non-refundable deposit of $200 per person secures your reservation but may vary - please check your specific adventure. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or check. Final payment is due 1 month [30 days] before departure. For your convenience, we can work out a monthly payment plan.


A non-refundable deposit of $200 per person secures your reservation but may vary - please check your specific adventure. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or check. Final payment is due 1 month [30 days] before departure. For your convenience, we can work out a monthly payment plan.


Up to 30 days before your adventure: Full Refund will be issued 29 days - 72 hours before your adventure: Full Refund in the form of NEM credit Within 72 hours of your adventure: No refund will be issued* In the event that you have a positive COVID-19 test and need to cancel within 72 hours, you will be issued an NEM credit for your adventure.


Up to 90 days before your adventure: Full Refund will be issued 89 days - 30 days before your adventure: Participant will be responsible for paying 50% of the total balance. If the balance is paid in full, participant will receive a 50% refund in the form of NEM credit. Within 30 days of your adventure: No refund will be issued and participant will be responsible for paying the full balance.* *Travel Insurance is highly recommended to protect your investment. If NEM cancels your adventure due to weather or another unforeseen reason, you will receive an NEM credit.


Date changes are subject to availability. Date changes may be requested at anytime up to 7 days prior to your adventure without incurring a date change fee. Date changes may be requested between 7 and 3 days prior to your departure date for a $25 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed within 72 hours before your adventure.


In the event your guide or a fellow NEM guide or staff has reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 or they are otherwise feeling unwell they will attempt to get a COVID test in time for your adventure or course. In the event of a positive test or the absence of results,  your course or adventure will be rescheduled or you can opt for an NEM credit to use at your discretion. Refunds for travel, lodging or other costs associated with your adventure will not be refunded or reimbursed.