AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course

Level 2 Avalanche Course Overview

Understanding avalanches and their dangers is a must for any climber, skier, or backcountry enthusiast. We offer avalanche education courses following the established curriculum of the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). Our Level 2 courses take place in the heart of the Pacific Northwest on Mount Rainier and Mount Baker, Washington.

The Level 2 AIARE course is a three-day/24-hour course that provides backcountry travelers an opportunity to advance their decision making skills in more complicated situations such as being a leader within a small travel group, traveling in more complicated terrain, and/or developing a travel plan where resources are scarce.  The course builds on the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in the AIARE 1 and adds to it the evaluation of critical hazard assessment factors. Students will describe and discuss weather, snowpack and avalanche processes, and identify how these processes relate to observations and travel within avalanche terrain.

During the field sessions of this course, students receive hands-on experience making decisions in avalanche terrain and practice with avalanche rescue skills. Our courses are offered at a six to one student-instructor ratio.

Many students enjoy pairing this course with our Backcountry Ski Seminar, which focuses on applying the knowledge gained from a Level 2 Avalanche Course and building on it with other helpful techniques for proficient backcountry travel. Together these programs give students all the necessary skills to travel in simple to challenging backcountry terrain with team members of equal or greater training.

Alpine Ascents and AIARE – American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education

Alpine Ascents is proud to partner with The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) to provide avalanche education courses. AIARE is a nonprofit established in 1998 specializing in development of avalanche education curriculum. AIARE’s mission is to save lives through education for recreationalists and professionals. Our instructors are certified by AIARE to teach avalanche education.

Online Curriculum

Our program includes AIARE online education training. With this preparation, students can use the three days with instructors to dive further into avalanche theory and work closely on decision making in the field.

Level 2 Avalanche Course Objectives

This course has been successfully used for educating  skiers, snowboarders, split-boarders, climbers, and mountaineers around the world.

Students will come away with the tools to:

  • Differentiate where specific avalanche hazards exist within the landscape and identify avalanche terrain where consequences may be more severe.
  • Use and interpret weather, snow, and avalanche observations to locate appropriate terrain prior to entering and while in the field.
  • Demonstrate leadership skills within a small team that include facilitating small group discussion, promoting appropriate terrain selection, and utilizing simple risk management strategies.
  • Implement a basic forecasting framework that can be used in conjunction with and in the absences of local supporting avalanche information.

Prerequisites

  • Participants must have the ability to travel in avalanche terrain.
  • An AIARE 1 Course (strongly recommended) or equivalent Level 1 training is required.
  • A winter of practical experience after the Level 1 course is highly recommended before taking the AIARE 2 course.
  • AIARE or AAA approved one-day Avalanche Rescue Course.

Reading List

This is our highly recommended shortlist. We would be happy to pass along a longer reading list for those interested. These links will bounce to Amazon.com with reviews.

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain
Bruce Tremper, Mountaineers Books
The Avalanche Handbook
Peter Schaerer and David McClung, Mountaineers Books
Snow Sense
Jill Fredston and Doug Fesler

I’ve got a few small trips on the radar with Alpine Ascents later in 2019, but I think the most concise statement of praise I can offer is that I’m truly excited to see where things go from here as we look forward into 2020 and beyond.

Photo courtesy of Ruby Mountain Heli-Ski
Photo courtesy of Ruby Mountain Heli-Ski

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Alpine Ascents International is an authorized mountain guide service of Denali National Park and Preserve and Mount Rainier National Park.
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