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Glaciologists at all training and career levels work in a variety of environments spanning the globe. Here we provide guidence on training courses and in-the-field tips. See our post about field safety and training here where we cover those topics more in depth. Our goal here is to give you a short overview and to point you toward a collection of external resources covering a wide range of topics.

Training and Leadership

A number of specialized training would be relevant depending on the specific working environment; however, implicit bias and bystander training are strongly encouraged for everyone. For supervisors and instructors, training in mentorship and leadership are extremely beneficial considering many academic researchers and educators are not formally trained in leadership. Good leadership is essential to successful fieldwork.


Recommended training courses will vary by the specific conditions associated with your project. Here are a list of some common courses that may be useful:

  • Crevasse rescue
  • Glacier travel
  • Ski mountaineering
  • Avalanche safety and rescue
  • Bear safety
  • Wilderness First-aid
  • Wilderness First Responder

It is important to know that you do not need to have extensive outdoor experience in order to be successful in the field. Fieldwork and everything that goes into it is a learned skill that can be acquired by anyone given the right resources and support. PI's should consider including funding in project budgets to support students in acquiring all of the skills needed for your project.

Finding a course

Some of these short courses may be useful depending on your specific fieldwork goals and line of research. Below is a list of some organizations that are found throughout the country that have affordable courses that are generally open to the public. Universities (especially those situated in the north) may also have similar or more extensive course offerings through their outdoor recreation departments, these classes are usually geared towards students and are very affordable.

American Alpine Club

The organization has resources and videos online. Individual clubs typically offer very affordable training in basic rope skills, ski mountaineering, crevasse rescue, and various other classes.

REI stores

located throughout the US and offer a wide variety of free or very affordable classes. This includes in-person and more recently virtual classes on subjects ranging from bear safety and navigation to more technical classes in climbing and snow travel.

Climbing and mountaineering schools across the country offer courses in relevant skills. However, before paying for an outside program, check with your school or university. Many outdoor recreation departments or research institutes offer free or low-cost training programs and gear rentals.


Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills ISBN: 9781680510041

Additional safety resources

The APECS-INTERACT Fieldwork Planning Handbook discusses several safety considerations relevant for polar field work. Additional resources related to harassment and handling difficult situations are on p115.