Snow Safety & Awareness

The yurts are located in avalanche country and we must treat this with the utmost respect. Avalanche beacons, shovels, and probes are mandatory for anyone visiting the yurts. Natural and human triggered avalanches can and do happen in our area, so safe practices are a must. Know your snowpack, dig pits, follow safe routes, ski one at a time and follow your instincts! The following is an excerpt from Snow Sense, by Jill Fredston and Doug Fesler:

'Avalanches do not happen by accident, they occur for particular reasons. Most of the avalanches catching people are triggered by people, and the same mistakes are being made repeatedly. While some accidents are a result of not recognizing potential hazard, most accidents occur because the victims either underestimate the hazard or overestimate their ability to deal with it, often exercising poor route selection or choice of timing. Many of the accidents involve “experienced” skiers or mountain travelers. Nearly all avalanche accidents can be avoided. The clues are there. The key is to learn to read “nature’s billboards.”’

Travel and ski safely in the backcountry!

Check out www.missoulaavalanche.org for local reports.


Avalanche Level 1 Classes

Available Dates for 2016-17 season:  Session 1- Jan 6-9,  Session 2- Jan 13-16, Session 3- Jan 27-30, Session 4- Feb 10-13

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Yurtski offers four Avalanche Level 1 classes in the Swan Mountains.  An evening classroom session in Missoula is followed by a 2 night/3 day field session at Yurtski.  At Yurtski our Avalanche education happens right outside our front door.  We are in avalanche terrain once we leave the trailhead and our classroom consists of a vast amount of terrain and aspects. We spend our time on the snow and we strive to have people learning in a hands on environment. We take tours as teachable moments where we discuss at length route finding techniques, skinning technique, and snow pit analysis.  We study and practice many different snow tests, and rescue scenarios. We cover beacon training, and rescue methods using multiple mock accident scenes.  Courses carefully follow the American Avalanche Association curriculum and are taught by former avalanche forecaster for the West Central Montana Avalanche Center Specialist and American Avalanche Association Certified Instructor (one of 76 in the US). Each course includes textbook, yurt stay, all meals, gear haul and guides. Participants must have a good attitude, be of intermediate/strong skiing ability, have a beacon, shovel, probe and mode of travel (skins/snowshoes).  At Yurtski, we offer the best possible learning environment where you learn on the snow not in a lecture hall.

- Evening classroom session in Missoula followed by a 2 night/3 day field session at Yurtski.

- Course is taught by former avalanche forecaster for West Central Montana Avalanche Center and American Avalanche Association Certified Instructor. Course follows AAA curriculum/guidelines and includes beacon training, snow pit analysis and terrain selection/ route finding techniques.

- Field session includes yurt stay, all meals, gear haul and guides

ALL PARTICIPANTS MUST HAVE A BEACON, SHOVEL, PROBE AND A MODE OF TRAVEL (SKINS OR SNOWSHOES)

-This course is deigned for backcountry skiers who are seeking avalanche safety education.  We ask that participants have strong skiing abilty, some backcountry skiing experience, and are familiar with their equipment.

- Course cost is $525, course can be booked online.

 In order to book your course, click on any "book now" button, then click on "avalanche education."  From here you can choose your session and reserve your spot.  Space is limited.

Contact YURTSKI at 406-721-1779 for more information


Women's Only Courses

Women’s Only Backcountry Ski Clinic

Available Dates for 2016-17 season:  March 3-5

Yurtski offers a Women’s Only Backcountry Ski Clinic where we cover the basics. The class starts at 9am at our trailhead on the 3rd and we aim to be out of the mountains by 5pm on the 5th.  Our instructors are hard working women who love to spend time in the snow.  They have experience in Avalanche Instruction, backcountry medicine, women's studies, guiding Alpine climbs in the Tetons for Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, instructing for NOLS, and directing the outdoor program at the University of Montana.   Our class is designed to give you all the information you need to start getting out into the backcountry.  We cover everything from pack essentials, skinning techniques, route finding techniques, basic beacon training, and rescue scenarios.  We strive to have an environment where everyone is comfortable asking questions and we tailor our curriculum to the group’s needs and goals.  Our instructors can cover the basics or ramp up education depending on the group.  The class includes yurt stay, instructors, all meals and gear haul.  Yurtski lies deep in the backcountry of the Swan Mountains and offers the best possible learning environment.    

ALL PARTICIPANTS MUST HAVE A BEACON, SHOVEL, PROBE AND A MODE OF TRAVEL (SKINS OR SNOWSHOES)

This class is for the resort skier who is wanting to venture into the backcountry.  As such, we ask that participants be able to confidently ski "blue/black runs" at the resort.  This course is for you if you want to start venturing into the backcountry but want to gain some skills before heading into hazardous terrain.  Participants must know how to ski or snowboard but no prior backcountry knowledge is necessary.  We will be spending our time learning the critical ways to stay warm, safe and enjoy the winter backcountry while having a blast at these remote yurts for the weekend.  Come on up and meet some like minded ladies who love spending time in the mountains!

If you are looking for a full avalanche level 1 class please refer to our other opportunities for this season.

- Course cost is $425, course can be booked online.  

In order to book your course, click on any "book now" button, then click on "avalanche education."  From here you can choose your session and reserve your spot.  Space is limited.

Contact YURTSKI at 406-721-1779 for more information


 Women's Only Avalanche Level 1

Available Dates for 2016-17 season:  NO OFFERINGS FOR THE 2016-17 SEASON

Yurtski will also be offering a Women's Only Avalanche Level Course this year!  The course will cover all the same information as our regular avalanche classes, except it is designed and taught by women for women.  With the Swan Range as our classroom, we'll look at terrain management, decision making, route finding, snow pit analysis, beacon searches, and rescue scenarios.  Class follows American Avalanche Association curriculum and guidelines.  The class includes yurt stay, instructors, all meals, and a gear haul.  The yurts are the perfect environment to be immersed in the snow and avalanche country.  Don't miss out on this great educational opportunity!  Come and be part of an All Women's Avy 1

- Classroom session in Missoula followed by a 2 night/3 day field session at Yurtski.

ALL PARTICIPANTS MUST BE HAVE A BEACON, SHOVEL, PROBE AND A MODE OF TRAVEL (SKINS OR SNOWSHOES)

This course is deigned for backcountry skiers who are seeking avalanche safety education.  We ask that participants have strong skiing abilty, some backcountry skiing experience, and are familiar with their equipment.  Participants can anticipate long days out in winter weather conditions so they must be proficient in keeping warm, and traveling efficiently.  This includes knowing your personal equipment such as bindings and skins or snowshoes and having the ability to skin/snowshoe on steep terrain for several hours each day.

-Course cost is $525 , course cannot be booked online. Space is limited.

Contact YURTSKI at 406-721-1779 for more information or to reserve your spot


Some great resources for avalanche safety are:
Secret’s of the Snow: Visual Clues to Avalanches and Ski Conditions and Field Guide to Snow Crystals by Edward La Chapelle
Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper
Canadian Avalanche Association’s Backcountry Avalanche Awareness by Bruce Jamieson
Snow Sense by Jill Fredston and Doug Fesler

Other good snow reads:
Snowstruck by Jill Fredston
Downhill Slide: Why the Corporate Ski Industry is Bad for Skiing, Ski Towns, and the Environment by Hal Clifford
The Snowflake: Winter’s Secret Beauty by Kenneth Libbrecht and Patrica Rasmussen
Yurts: Living in the Round by Becky Kemery

Permitted by the Lolo national forest, Seeley lake ranger district