Candidate Training

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Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol provides training in Mountain Travel and Rescue, Avalanche for the Professional Rescuer, and Introduction to Ski Patrol. These courses are required for candidates new to ski patrolling and recommended for patrollers transferring from other areas.

Joining the Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol requires the following:

  • joining the National Ski Patrol (NSP) and paying dues to the patrol
  • completing the NSP Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) course
  • completion of a TBSP-instructed NSP Level 1 Avalanche course -or- AIARE Level 1 course
  • NSP Mountain Travel and Rescue Level 1 course

In addition:

  • You are a proļ¬cient backcountry skier or rider (if in doubt about your skier/riding ability, contact
  • You have gear for single day backcountry tours or are prepared to put together the gear and daypack for single day tours
  • You have the time and are committed to completing the course and becoming a TBSP patroller


Time commitment

The candidate training season is a major time commitment.

OEC Candidates have a 15 day commitment their first year. Non-OEC candidates have a 14 day commitment. These days are a mix of classroom and field training days, and days out shadowing our normal patrols. Candidates will be able to sign up for these shadow patrol days on our website after Nov 21, 2011. Candidates who have NSP MTR experience or AIARE or NSP Avalanache Level 1 certification can challenge some of the training days.

The commitment for a full patroller is 8 days per season.

OEC Candidates

For candidates who complete the National Ski Patrol's Outdoor Emergency Care before their candidate season, the candidate year is 15 days. Candidates become full patrollers at the end of this season with completion of the final. Training days consist of 4 Candidate Patrols, a three-day Basic Mountain Travel and Rescue course (1 classroom, 2 overnight field), a three-day Basic Avalanche for the Professional Rescuer (1 classroom, 2 field days), one OEC Skills clinic, and four days out shadowing our normal patrols.

The dates for the 2011/12 season are (tentative):

  • 12/3/2011 Saturday MTR Classroom Session
  • 12/4/2011 Sunday Candidate Patrol 1 (Classroom)
  • 1/7/2012 Saturday Candidate Patrol 2
  • 1/8/2012 Sunday OEC Clinic
  • 1/28/2012 Saturday Avalanche Classroom
  • 1/29/2012 Sunday Avalanche Field
  • 2/4/2012 Saturday Avalanche Field / Beacons
  • 2/11/2012 Saturday Candidate Patrol 3
  • 2/12/2012 Sunday Candidate Patrol 4
  • 3/10/2012 Saturday MTR Candidate Overnight
  • 3/11/2012 Sunday MTR Candidate Overnight
  • 3/31/2012 Saturday Candidate Patrol 5
  • ... Any Four Patrol Days
  • 4/14/2012 Saturday Candidate Final

Transfer Patrollers

Transfer Patrollers follow the same schedule as OEC candidates, though transfers who have already completed MTR1 or Avi may get approval from the training coordinator to skip redundant trainings.

Candidates without OEC

Candidates without OEC training are required to have a current certification in two-rescuer CPR (Red Cross CPR for the Professional Rescuer or equivalent).

For candidates who begin their candidate training before completing the National Ski Patrol's Outdoor Emergency Care course, their first candidate season consists of 14 training days. Candidates take the OEC course during the fall and complete their training during their second season with the patrol. The second season will consist of eight training and patrol days.

First season:

  • 3-4 Candidate Patrol Days
  • Mountain Travel and Rescue (1 day classroom, 2 day overnight)
  • Avalanche Level 1 (1 classroom, 2 field days)
  • Any four patrol days


  • OEC course

Second season:

  • Operations and On-The-Hill refresher
  • OEC Clinic
  • Any training days not completed in the first candidate season
  • Returning candidate final evaluation
  • Patrol Days (at least 5 patrol days)

Returning Candidates

The training dates for returning candidates for 2011/12 are:

  • 12/10/2011 Saturday On-The-Hill Refresher
  • 1/7/2012 Saturday Candidate Patrol 2
  • 1/8/2012 Sunday OEC Clinic
  • TBD Saturday Returning Candidate Final
  • ... Any Five Patrol Days!

About the training

Mountain Travel and Rescue

  • Map and Compass Exercises
    • Dead reckoning
    • Map and Compass skills
    • Route planning and finding
  • GPS
  • Low angle rope rescue
  • Knots
  • Winter survival
  • Leadership

Introduction to TBSP / Candidate Patrols

  • TBSP history, goals, and responsibilities: Familiarity with each of our primary patrol areas; Radio protocols.
  • Morning patrol meeting and checkout: Care and use of radios; Care and use of TBSP group gear.
  • Evening patrol meeting, equipment care.
  • Mountain Travel and Rescue: Navigation with map, compass, and GPS; Personal gear, health, survival, and interactions with the public; Route planning & risk management.
  • Patient Access Rope System.
  • Avalanche aware travel tactics/techniques.
  • Backcountry Skiing/Riding Skills.
  • Toboggan training: Patient Packaging, Hypo-wrap; Static and dynamic toboggan transportation (up, down, and cross-hill); Care and handling of Cascade and Hegg toboggans; Construction and use of the Brooks Range sled.
  • TBSP Patrol Modules: Field repairs; Megamid patient pitch; Trauma & airway modules.
  • Familiarity with backcountry & car caches.
  • Major incident handling and coordination; Familiarity with the incident command system(ICS).

NSP Avalanche Lev 1

  • Beacon Searches
  • Probe searches / guidon cord
  • Safe travel in backcountry terrain.
  • Route selection
  • Hasty pits
  • Snow Surveys
  • Hazard analysis
Personal tools