Important info regarding Changes to the CAA Level 2 Operations Certification

NEW STRUCTURE
Beginning in winter 2020-21, the Avalanche Operations
Level 2 program assumes a new configuration. Instead of
the current three module system, we move toward two
components: Avalanche Operations Level 2 and Avalanche
Operations Level 2 Assessment.
The first component, named Avalanche Operations Level
2, is a combination of the current modules 1 and 2. The
second component, named Avalanche Operations Level 2
Assessment, is the same as the current module 3 where
students’ skills and competency, in both technical knowledge
and practical application of Level 2 concepts, are evaluated
(see Fig. 1 below)
Given the changes, there will be benefits, challenges and
implications for current students.

WHY?
The driver behind the Level 1 and Level 2 curriculum
development and course delivery modification is the
Competency Aligned Avalanche Risk Management Training
(CAARAT) project. For the past three years, we have worked
to align curriculum to the competency profiles. The project
is also an opportunity to improve, revise, update, and revisit
courses that normally only see small scale changes on an
annual basis.

CHANGES
The idea of combining Modules 1 and 2 was proposed by
a Level 2 working group during a CAARAT project meeting
in June 2018. This group is composed of CAARAT project
members, representatives from the industry, CAA students,
ADAPT project members, and Industry Training Program
instructors. The proposed idea was then approved by the
CAA’s education committee later that summer.
As with any change, there are benefits and costs as well
as implications for current students. Below are some of
the benefits and costs that were identified by the Level 2
working group.

Benefits:
• More fluid learning progression from concepts to
application
• Better continuity and opportunity for instructors to
provide feedback
• A mix of indoor and outdoor activities to break up
classroom time
• Integration of theory with practice
• Reduced time spent reviewing prior learnings
• Less expensive for students (fewer sessions, less travel)
Challenges
• Students must attend a 7 to 8-day course during the winter
season
• Shifts between field and classroom days (i.e. continuity of
weather and snowpack tracking)
• Enrollment per course limited to 18 students (vs. 30-36 on
current Module 1)
Ultimately, it is recognized that more time off during
the winter months comes at a cost to both students and
employers. However, it was deemed that the benefits
outweigh these costs.

BLAST FROM THE PAST
The Avalanche Operations Level 2 program began in the late
70’s and was originally delivered as an 8-day course which
included several assessments. In 2002 the CAA implemented
a significant change in the Level 2 program where it
went from being an all-in-one course to three modules.
The outcomes of the three-module course delivery were
excellent: a more comprehensive curriculum, additional time
for feedback and coaching in a non-evaluative environment,
interactive student exercises, and an opportunity for career
professional development.
Over time, it became evident to Level 2 instructors that
there is a disconnect between the Module 1 classroom
concepts and actual application of that learning during the
field-based Module 2 (for example linking Module 1 lessons on
situational awareness to field work objectives on the Module
2). The time between Modules 1 and 2, at least 1 month and up
to a year, made it difficult for students to retain key learnings.
Changes to the Avalanche Operations Level 2 training are
coming into effect to create an environment that better
supports learning, application, and retention.

FIG 1: COMPARISON OF AVALANCHE OPERATIONS LEVEL 2 STRUCTURE

IMPLICATIONS FOR CURRENT STUDENTS
At this point, we will be running Avalanche Operations
Level 2 courses as per usual for winter 2019/20. However,
there is a caveat. Newly approved applicants must complete
both Modules 1 and 2 during the 2019-20 season. If these
applicants are unable to complete both modules in the 2019-
20 season, they must defer registration until the following
winter.
Level 2 students who are in the program already (e.g.
they’ve taken a Module 1 or 2 this winter 2018/19) must
complete the remainder of their modules next season
(2019/20).
In brief:
• Level 2 students who have taken a Module 1 or 2 this
winter (2018/19) must complete the remainder of their
modules next season (2019/20)
• Newly approved applicants (2019/20) must complete both
Modules 1 and 2 during the 2019-20 season. Those unable
to complete both modules in the 2019-20 season must defer
registration until the following winter

SUMMARY
The Avalanche Operations Level 2 program has stood the test
of time. This is the first large-scale change in 17 years and,
although there are challenges associated with this change,
we believe that these are outweighed by the benefits of
increased course quality and educational experience.
We’re excited to see the Level 2 outcomes of the CAARAT
project come to fruition in winter 2020/21. In the meantime,
project team members are working hard behind the scenes to
revise, update, and improve upon existing curriculum.
If you have any questions, please contact Emily Grady,
Industry Training Program Manager.
Each year the CAA’s Industry Training Program modifies its courses
based on new research, student & instructor feedback, and current
best practices. At times, these modifications are more substantial
and involve external funding. For example, over the past two years
an ongoing project is working to align the Avalanche Operations
Level 1 course curriculum1 with the CAA’s competency profiles.