AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course Itinerary
Our program includes AIARE online education and training. This online training is designed to help students review and refresh concepts from the AIARE Level 1 curriculum. There are also quizzes to check understanding and assignments to prepare for your AIARE Level 2. The online education generally takes 2-4 hours and can be completed at any time prior to the course.
Field sessions will run from 8am-5pm in the backcountry. You should arrive with everything on the gear list, prepared to spend full days in the field. Bring lunch, high energy snacks, and two full water bottles. Prior to the field sessions, your instructor will clearly outline the meeting time and location.
For courses at Mount Rainier: Between November 1 and May 1, all vehicles in Mount Rainier National Park are required to carry tire chains. This requirement applies to all vehicle types in all weather and road conditions. You can read more about the chain requirement here.
Day 1 – The Changing Mountain Snowpack
The day starts at 8:00AM at our designated rendezvous point with a thorough equipment check, introductions, an overview of the day, and a trip planning refresher before we gear up to head into the backcountry. The course will start with a review of the principals covered in the AIARE Level 1 curriculum. Once we’re all on the same page, we’ll dive into mountain weather phenomena and how it relates to the layered mountain snowpack. After a short break for lunch, we’ll practice taking snow profiles. We’ll aim to be back at the trailhead around 5:00PM for an overview of the day.
Day 2 – Making Quality Observations
The focus for our second day in the field is making quality observations. We’ll start the day at 8AM with a discussion of avalanche formation and release. Next, we’ll move onto interpreting weather data, snow surface conditions, and snow profiles. After lunch, we’ll dive into craftsmanship, relevancy, and verification of snow observations and practice running snowpack tests in the field. We’ll close out the day with a discussion of small group risk management and aim to be back at the trailhead at 5PM.
Day 3 – Applying Observations for Field Decisions
On our final day, we’ll be putting it all together and applying our field observations to our field decisions. We’ll rendezvous at 8AM and travel in the backcountry in small teams, taking observations and managing risk as we navigate terrain and earn our turns. At the close of the day, we’ll learn the correct method to communicate our observations from the day to the larger group, other backcountry travelers, and local experts. We’ll wrap up around 5PM.