AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course

Level 1 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 courses take place in the heart of the Pacific Northwest on Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, and Snoqualmie Pass, Washington.

This comprehensive 24-hour course introduces students to the necessary decision-making tools for managing risk while traveling in avalanche terrain. It is designed for all individuals recreating on snow in the mountains whether skiing, split-boarding, snowshoeing, climbing, or mountaineering.

Our AIARE avalanche education program is comprised of a flexible online curriculum coupled with a Zoom meeting with instructors, followed by field sessions on Saturday and Sunday in the backcountry. It is the same curriculum as the standard three-day course, with the classroom portions occurring online, allowing participants to learn at their own pace without missing a day of work or school.

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 1 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. This online training allows students to move at their own pace, learning about the avalanche phenomenon prior to the field sessions of the course. With this preparation, students can use the two days with instructors to dive further into avalanche theory and work closely on decision making in the field. The online education generally takes 4-6 hours and can be completed at any time prior to the course. We will also be hosting a 2-hour Zoom meeting with the instructors on the Thursday prior to the field weekend to go over additional education topics, answer any questions, and prepare for the field portion of the course.

Level 1 Avalanche Course Objectives

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

Course will cover:

  • Understanding the avalanche phenomenon
  • Mountain weather
  • Identifying avalanche terrain
  • Reading and applying local avalanche forecast
  • Avalanche companion rescue
  • Understanding snowpack observations
  • Traveling techniques in avalanche terrain
  • How to prepare for backcountry travel

Students will come away with the tools to:

  • Plan and facilitate making decisions in the backcountry
  • Create and execute a tour plan for traveling in the backcountry
  • Find relevant current avalanche forecast resources
  • Efficiently identify avalanche terrain

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

Throughout the trip, my impression was that no expense was spared and that the guides’ primary goals were to keep everybody safe and give them all the best possible shot at succeeding on the mountain. This differs from prior experiences I have had with other companies and was a welcome change

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

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Partners & Accreditations

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