Avalanche Rescue

Course Outline

Avalanche Rescue


The Avalanche Rescue course is suited to rescue team members who have completed the Avalanche Companion course. Alternatively, participants should understand the basics of avalanche hazard assessment and risk reduction. Candidates should be able to perform a transceiver search and companion rescue of a single buried victim.

There are two key aspects to this course.

1.    Further avalanche hazard awareness and risk reduction, especially under the pressures of a multi-burial organised rescue operation

2.    The location, extraction and treatment of multiple avalanche victims following long duration burial

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 2019/2020:

Avalanche Rescue Learning Information & Outcomes

Avalanche Burial – Organised Rescue Response

Pre-Course Requirements

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

  • All participants are requested to ensure they have transport available as the course programme will necessitate travel to and from training venues. Where possible course candidates are required to use their own vehicle.
  • For insurance purposes participants are requested to sign on with  their own team prior to course attendance. This is an SMR course pre-requisite.
  • Participants are expected to provide their own evening  meals/hill food for the duration of the course.
  • Sufficient personal equipment is required to enable candidates to operate within a winter mountainous environment, in all conditions for the duration of the course.

For your comfort and safety please to ensure you have appropriate equipment for this course.

Essential Equipment

Personal Equipment Essential on all courses

1.    Lunch & hill food, this is NOT provided by the accommodation

2.    Transceiver, probe, metal bladed snow shovel

3.    Helmet (essential for digging exercises)

4.    Team radio

5.    Waterproof shell

6.    Warm clothing including insulated jacket

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

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

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

9.    Map of training area, compass

10.Your usual winter equipment



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
Friday Evening


1.    Course welcome and intro

2.    Avalanche Avoidance

3.    Hasty Party and Probing

4.    Groups and prep for Saturday

Saturday 1.    Planning exercise to set up day
  Depart for hill

1.    Practical training sessions

a.       The journey

b.       Transceiver searches

c.       Hasty search techniques

1.    Practical skills stations

a.       Multi transceiver searches

b.       Probe lines and flagging

c.       Shovelling

d.       Hypothermia

2.    Depart hill


1.    Review of day and scene set for following day

2.    Avalanche transceivers

3.    Medical & casualty cares

Sunday 1.    SAIS info & website links

2.    Avalanche scene management

3.    SARDA lecture

Depart for hill

1.    SARDA demo

2.    Recco

3.    Avalanche incident exercise

4.    Modified packaging

5.    CPR on the move

6.    Depart mountain

Course debrief


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