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
  • completing the NSP Avy1 and MTR1 courses

In addition:

  • You are a proficient 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. For OEC trained candidates, the candidate year is 12 days; for non-OEC candidates the commitment is 8 days. The commitment for a full patroller is 8 days.

OEC trained candidates participate in patrol days and training days during the year.

  • Patrol days (8 days)
    • TBSP Orientation (1 day)
    • 4 Intro to Ski Patrol days
    • 3 Patrol Shadowing days
  • Training Days (6 days)
    • Basic Mountain Travel and Rescue, 3 days (1 classroom, 2 overnight field)
    • Basic Avalanche for the Professional Rescuer, 3 days (1 class, 2 field days)

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). Candidates without OEC are required to do 11 training and patrol days their first season and eight patrol days their second season.

First season:

  • Introduction to TBSP (Orientation day only)
  • Mountain Travel and Rescue (1 day classroom, 2 day overnight)
  • Avalanche Level 1 (1 classroom, 2 field days)
  • Shadow Patrol Days (any 4 patrol days)

Sign ups for the Fall OEC courses typically occur in March and fill up very quickly. The OEC courses fill up very quickly because they are shared with all other resort patrols in the Tahoe area.

The training schedule for the 2009-2010 season is as follows, plus four shadow patrol days:

  • Saturday Dec 5, 2009: Mountain Travel and Rescue 1 Classroom Session
  • Sunday Dec 6, 2009: Candidate Orientation (ISP 1)
  • Saturday Jan 30, 2010: Avalanche 1 Classroom Session
  • Sunday Jan 31, 2010: Avalanche 1 Field Session
  • Saturday Feb 13, 2010: Avalanche 1 Transceiver Searches
  • Saturday Mar 20, 2010: MTR Overnight
  • Sunday Mar 21, 2010: MTR Overnight

Second season:

  • Operations and On-The-Hill refresher
  • Introduction to TBSP (5 days)
  • Returning candidate final evaluation
  • Patrol Days (at least 2 patrol days)

The training schedule for the 2009-2010 season is as follows, in addition to at least two patrol days:

  • Sunday Oct 18, 2009: Operations Refresher
  • Saturday Dec 12, 2009: On The Hill Refresher
  • Sunday Dec 6, 2009: Candidate Orientation (ISP 1)
  • Saturday Jan 9, 2010: Candidate Patrol (ISP 2)
  • Sunday Jan 10, 2010: Candidate Patrol (ISP 3)
  • Sunday Feb 14, 2010: Candidate Patrol (ISP 4)
  • Saturday Feb 27, 2010: Candidate Patrol (ISP 5)
  • Sunday Feb 10, 2010: Returning Candidate Final

Good luck!

About the training

Mountain Travel and Rescue

  • Map and Compass Exercises
    • Dead reckoning
    • Resectioning
    • Route planning and finding
  • MTR course materials

Introduction to TBSP

  • Radio protocols (review of AGILE)
  • Patient Access Rope System
    • Lowering system
  • Emergency Sled: Brooks Range Sled Construction
  • Required knots
  • Orienteering
  • Beacon Searches (multiple burial, multiple searcher)
  • Toboggan handling
  • Megamid construction
  • Major incident handling and coordination

NSP Avalanche Lev 1

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