RIDGE Education Core Curriculum

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At RIDGE Mountain Academy hands on, active learning happens every day and is integrated into the daily schedule.  Student Athletes have the option to earn up to 9 college credits through The University of Montana. The following experiential courses are part of RIDGE’s core program: 

At RIDGE we do not Learn by Standing still.

Course Descriptions



Mountain weather has a profound influence on our snowpack. Here in the northern Rockies, mountain ranges experience a mix of maritime and continental conditions throughout the winter. While synoptic-scale systems determine longer term (weekly) weather patterns, meso-scale weather events such as mountain winds, terrain-forced flows and thunderstorms play out on a daily basis. Observations and manual recording of daily weather and weekly snow pit assessments are vital (student) practices as they provide an understanding of changing snow stability. Through such practices, RIDGE student skiers and riders gain unique sets of skills for safe travel in the backcountry. Together with mapping exercises and ongoing terrain analysis in the field, student athletes learn to make wise choices while traveling in avalanche terrain.


(3 credits)  

RIDGE Mountain Academy believes that student athletes can benefit tremendously - physically, mentally, and emotionally - from working their bodies on a consistent basis. Central to the RIDGE mission is providing tailored coaching in mountain sports and goal-oriented physical training. Specific activities of the program work together to balance power, aerobic endurance and technical skill. This is accomplished through fitness training in the gym for building strength, together with activities specific to:

Technical Skiing/Snowboarding, Ski Mountaineering/Backcountry Touring, Ice/Rock Climbing and Mountain Biking.  RIDGE Mountain Academy’s physical conditioning program is taught at the Whitefish Wave Health and Fitness Center by a professional physical trainer. Specific activities of this free weight and circuit training program build strength in core, balance, focus and technical skills. Classes are held weekly during the semester. Student athletes are assessed by their improved performance, stamina and endurance over the course of the semester. 

Wilderness Medicine:

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) and CPR (1 Credit)

This course provides a foundation of knowledge in wilderness emergency medicine. Student athletes learn skills and knowledge that will enable them to be responsible backcountry users and prepared outdoor industry professionals.


Backcountry medicine course during gap semester

Avalanche 1 Safety Course  (1 Credit)

The RIDGE Level 1 Avalanche Safety Course follows the American Avalanche Association recommendations for a Level 1: Avalanche Fundamentals Course.  The course provides students with a foundation of knowledge and related skills including companion rescue, snowpack analysis, terrain identification, and.... A Backcountry Avalanche Checklist helps to focus the curriculum around a systematic approach to sorting and prioritizing information in the complex environment of decision-making in the backcountry. The main objectives are for students to gain the knowledge and skills to make safe decisions while traveling in introductory avalanche terrain.

Photography, Videography & Social Media

This photo/ video course will challenge students to create dynamic visual content. Through class discussions, weekly assignments, and project reviews, students will explore visual media history, personal creativity, and learn techniques for producing dynamic visual content.  The goal of the RIDGE photo and video program is to help student athletes enhance their creative visual media capabilities. We live in a visual society- some videos and photos we see are produced well, others are 'snapshots'. In this course we will define the difference between low quality and high quality visual media, and gain experience creating images and videos with a purpose. Student athletes will have the opportunity to submit content for publication through RIDGE outlets and RIDGE'S gear/ industry partners. Student athletes will also be encouraged to submit content for print and publication at an end of semester gallery show.


Yoga postures exercise every part of the body. The purpose of this course is to introduce student athletes to Vinyasa, Hatha, and Iyengar yoga physical exercise. This course is designed for students to not only practice but gain the knowledge of a proper yoga regimen for high level athletes. This includes stretching and toning the muscles and joints, spine and entire skeletal system. A routine yoga practice, releases physical and mental tension and helps promote balance between mind and body. Students learn from certified instructors, as well as have the opportunity to lead practices for themselves and their peers.