Reflections on Our Mother Daughter Avalanche Level 1 Course

During the course I felt such a powerful sense of belonging and was able to really come out of my shell. I was so excited to come to class each day and learn, because I was with a group of incredible women who made me feel motivated to show up as my best self.”

Daughter in Keely’s Camp Mother/Daughter Avalanche Level 1 Course

This February, Keely’s Camp partnered with Sawtooth Mountain Guides to offer our first Mother & Daughter AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course. 

The course brought together mothers & daughters from three different states and left everyone feeling inspired, challenged, educated after being introduced to some of the wonders of backcountry skiing/riding. 

Prior to the start of the course, the three guides, Sara Lundy, Katie Matthews and myself (Lindsay Mann Davis- Keely’s Camp Operations Manager and Head Guide), got together for our daily morning meeting where we discussed the daily hazards (avalanche and non – avalanche hazards) and our plan for the day. This is a similar planning process that we taught during the course officially titled “Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain”. During our first guides meeting one of the non-avalanche hazards that we recognized as a guide team was mother/daughter dynamics. 

To ensure that both mother’s and daughter’s were able to best absorb all the information in the course, we set the tone on day one during our rescue training by grouping all participants with their peers and emphasizing that questions were encouraged in the field. This led to mothers getting to know other mothers and daughters getting to know other daughters. For our final rescue scenarios at the end of the day, we came back together as mother/daughter pairings. This created a great learning experience and a space where everyone felt comfortable asking questions, TRYING out the new skills, and gaining confidence in our equipment. 

During our day one debrief, we discussed the importance of being able to communicate with your partners and how these conversations and skills are not unique to the backcountry. These communication skills are emphasized in Avalanche Education, but are applicable to many other aspects of our lives. 

One of the daughter’s shared her thoughts about learning alongside her mom during the course by saying, 

“I’m so grateful for the experience that I got to have alongside my mom, and I’m so proud of how much we learned together.” 

Day two of the course, we shifted gears to making the avalanche forecast come alive, by getting out and looking for the different layers in the snowpack. After gathering more information about the snowpack and observations, the women and girls were coached through creating their own tour plan on day three, which we then went out and executed.

Besides finding great turns, I watched the group work together in one of the best student-led touring sessions I’ve been a part of as an avalanche educator. Mothers and daughters took turns sharing their thoughts, came prepared having looked at maps the night before, and identified terrain features where the avalanche problem existed and where good snow would be found! 

Our three main goals for the course were safety, learning, fun and teamwork. Throughout the three days we achieved all these and so much more. 

After the course we asked the mother’s and daughter’s to share a few of their takeaways and favorite moments from the course, here is what they shared: 

“It was such an amazing experience being able to do all the learning in a group of which was taught by women guides. I feel really empowered to get out and ski in the backcountry.” —Mother 

“My big takeaway from the course was actually being able to plan and execute a tour using the different mapping apps and putting together the tools provided.” —Daughter 

“The collection of information never ends when you are touring, it happens before you go up, planning, and then continuing to make observations when you are in the field. I could sense and feel everyone’s engagement and comfort during the course which made for a great overall experience.” — Mother 

Thank you to all the mother’s and daughter’s who participated in our first Mother/Daughter AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course. 

Thank you to Sawtooth Mountain Guides for partnering with us for this course. 

And thank you to our guides Sara and Katie for the knowledge, energy, and leadership you brought to the course!