AIARE 2: Analyzing Snow Stability and Avalanche Hazard

The AIARE 2 course is a 4-day program that provides backcountry leaders the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills. This course also includes the introductory and prerequisite components for the professional progression: the AIARE 3 certificate.

The AIARE 2 builds from the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in the level one and adds to it the evaluation of factors critical to stability evaluation.

Student Learning Outcomesavy-1

  1. Advance understanding of avalanche terrain, particularly from the perspective of stability analysis.
  2. Discuss how the snowpack develops and metamorphoses over time; and discuss the factors that contribute to spatial variability.
  3. Learn standard observation guidelines and recording formats for factors that influence or indicate snow stability. SWAG MODULE.
  4. Advance understanding of avalanche release and triggering mechanisms.
  5. Introduce a snow stability analysis and forecasting framework.
  6. Improve companion rescue skills including multiple and deep burials.

Instructional Sessions (40 hours including both class and field) include:

  1. AIARE 1 Review
  2. Energy balance, the mountain snowpack and metamorphism
  3. Faceting; near surface and near crust faceting
  4. Formation of surface hoar and persistent weak layers
  5. Skier Triggering: theory and observations
  6. International and national snow, weather and avalanche observation and recording guidelines (SWAG).
    – Weather; interpreting forecasts, recording and observation techniques
    – Snow profile techniques and bonding tests
    – Avalanche observations and recording techniques
  7. Stability analysis checklist: reviewing critical factors
    – Stability ratings
    – Daily stability forecasts and analysis
  8. Trip Planning and hazard forecasting for avalanche terrain.trip-plan-1
    – The avalanche danger ratings
    – Terrain analysis using maps/photos
    – Forecasting stability and variability
  9. Terrain selection and route finding
    – Group management and hazard management
    – Decision making
    – Human factors
  10. Information gathering
    – Site selection and relevancy
    – Spatial variability
    – Slope tests
  11. Companion Rescue
    – AIARE 1 techniques review
    – Multiple burial
    – Shovel techniques

Student Prerequisites: Students 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 required before taking the AIARE 2 course.

Required equipment for all avalanche courses: Equipment List


Avalanche Courses
Course and length Student Objective Hazard Management Outcomes Link
Avalanche Awareness
1-2 hours
General Public (tailored to):

  • Middle & High School
  • Snowmobiliers
  • Skier, Boarders
  • Mixed user groups
Public awareness of risks associated with recreating in the winter backcountry. Provide information to access the avalanche bulletins, local info.Provide information regarding “observable clues” that indicate avalanche danger. Suggest a Level 1 Avalanche Course for further education or the Introduction fo Avalanche Safety.
Introduction to Avalanche Safety 1 or 2 days General Public (tailored to):

  • Riders frequenting avalanche terrain via lift access or easily accessible backcountry trail-heads.
  • Day trip riders heading to “near country”.


  • Introduce riders to the risks associated with backcountry travel accessed via lift service and easily accessible roadside trail-heads.
  • Review the history of avalanche activity in terrain the participant is likely to travel through.
  • Introduce and learn basic avalanche safety practices common to backcountry travellers.
Suggest a Level 1 Avalanche Course for further education.
3 days/24 hours
  • Introductory student
  • Recreational backcountry leader and party member


  • Introduces the avalanche phenomena.
  • More than an avalanche “awareness” course.
  • Introduces planning and prep for travel in avalanche terrain, human factors, terrain recognition, “red flag” observations, terrain selection, travel techniques.
  • Basic companion rescue
  • Basic hazard management course.
  • Uses rule based tools in combination with introductory knowledge based decision making tools.
  • Stand-alone course.
  • Provides link to level 2 course for backcountry leaders
4 days
  • Advanced
  • Backcountry team leader
  • Introductory professional: ski patrol, guide
Advanced Avalanche course

  • SWAG module, standardizes observation, recording guidelines.
  • Advances understanding of mountain snowpack.
  • Advanced rescue skills
  • Improves decision making and terrain skills.
  • Introduces stability factors/checklist and other stability evaluation tools.
  • Adds snow stability evaluation to hazard/risk management model.
  • Defines professional observation skills
  • Introductory
  • Professional course or advanced recreational team leader course.
  • The SWAG module for the level 3 course
7 days
ProfessionalEducation for:

  • Patrollers
  • Guides
  • CPD for forecasters
  • Advanced recreational leaders
  • Review of snowpack processes
  • Review of new research
  • Operational forecasting course.
  • Advanced decision making in avalanche terrain.
  • Advanced rescue skills
  • Operational style stability analysis/forecast.
  • Independent and team decision- making.
  • Knowledge based tools used in hazard forecasting
Combination of levels 2/ 3; plus completion of Level 3 assessment leads to pass/fail certificate.