Avalanche Companion

Next Course:-
Venue: Glenmore Lodge, Aviemore
Accommodation: Glenmore Lodge
Dates: 10th-12th January 2020
Accommodation is provided for this course.

Please note, this course is a one and a half day course. Two courses will be run over this weekend. First course will start on Friday evening and finished Saturday afternoon, the second course will begin Saturday evening and finish Sunday afternoon.

Course Outline

Avalanche Companion The Avalanche Companion course is suited to rescue team members with little or no previous experience of rescue in potentially hazardous winter terrain.

There are two key aspects to this course.

1.    Avalanche hazard awareness and reducing the avalanche risk in the winter mountains

2.    The rapid location, extraction and treatment of a single buried companion

The Avalanche Companion course aims to equip participants with the skills to be a team member able to operate safely in a small group during a winter search and rescue effort.

Further Information Neither of the two courses are ‘winter skills’ courses. Course participants should be confident in the use of crampons and single ice axe on easy angled ungraded winter terrain. These courses do not require the use of rope, harness, or other technical climbing equipment.

The courses are not a test of physical endurance. The distance travelled on foot is typically less than 8km during the day on easy ground. Participants should be comfortable in the conditions that can be expected in the Scottish winter mountains. There are many periods of low activity during group discussions and training exercises. THOSE WITHOUT SUITABLE CLOTHING WILL SUFFER.

Updated Information for 2020:

Avalanche Companion Information & Outcomes


Pre-course requirments:

In order to ensure smooth running of the course all candidates are asked to observe the following conditions:

  • All participants are requested to ensure they have transport arranged as the course programme will necessitate travel to and from training venues.
  • Sufficient personal equipment is required to enable candidates to operate within a mountainous environment, in all conditions, for the duration of the course.

Essential Equipment

Personal Equipment Essential on all courses

1. Lunch & hill food – Packed lunch is provided by the accommodation

2. Transceiver, probe, metal bladed snow shovel

3. Helmet (essential for digging exercises)

4. Waterproof shell

5. Warm clothing including insulated jacket

6. Winter gloves and/or mitts, at least two pairs

(Some digging & extraction exercises can result in cold wet gloves)

7. Crampons (make sure they fit your boots), winter boots, ice axe

8. Map of training area, compass

9. Your usual winter equipment

10. Rucksack


1. GPS

2. Snow goggles

3. Personal medications

Example Program

The course programme is regularly reviewed and updated to take account of the latest experience, research and developments in avalanche awareness and rescue.
Hours of learning 11 contact hours
First Evening


1. Course Introduction

2. Introduction to avalanche survival

3. Companion Rescue, avalanche transceivers, probing and digging

4.  Avalanche hazard identification, risk assessment safe travel and decision making

5. Split into groups, equipment checks

Next Day


1. Briefing, weather and avalanche forecast

2. Group planning exercise















1. Transceiver wearing and testing

2. Packing of avalanche tools and preparation for hill

3. Walk to training area

a. Continuous observation and hazard assessment

4. Practical exercises:
a. Additional avalanche hazard assessments. Snow pack studies and instability tests
c. Transceiver searching for single
d. Probing
e. Digging
f.  Casualty extraction, assessment and treatment

5. Return walk from training area, further observation, assessment and decision making

1. Q&A wrap-up

2. Course evaluation


Scottish Mountain Rescue, formerly known as The Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland, is a registered Scottish Charity – number SC045003