Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to take an avalanche course?

Only if you plan on traveling in avalanche terrain.  Travel in avalanche terrain can be dangerous.  To reduce your risk of having an accident you need to be able to assess and manage your risk.  AIARE courses are specifically designed for backcountry recreationists who need to make travel decisions in avalanche terrain.

How do I locate an avalanche course provider?

Click here to see a list of our course providers.

What equipment will I need for my avalanche course?

Click here to see what kind of equipment you will need for an avalanche course.

What level course should I attend?

  • The AIARE 1 course is a stand alone, decision makers course.  This single course will give you all of the information you need to begin to build experience safely in the backcountry.   Avalanche education is an experientially learned, life long endeavor.  The AIARE 1 gives you the tools to begin that endeavor.
  • The AIARE 2 course builds on knowledge from your AIARE 1 and experience you’ve gained in the field since your AIARE 1.  Observation and recording skills along with a more in-depth look at snow science is covered.  These elements are combined to further your ability to analyze snow stability and manage risk.  The AIARE 2 is a pre-requisite for the AIARE 3 course.
  • The AIARE 3 course is for professional level decision makers, operational planners, guides, ski patrollers and advanced recreational backcountry users.  This is a 6 day course with an assessment component.  The AIARE 2 is a pre-requisite to this course.

See our Program Overview for an more in-depth look at what each course offers.

Why are some (non-AIARE) Level 1 courses less than the total 24 hours required by the AAA?

All AIARE  1 courses are a minimum of 24 hours and comply with the American Avalanche Association’s guidelines for a level 1 course. The AAA, which is our national avalanche organization requires that all Level 1 courses be 24 hours in length. http://www.americanavalancheassociation.org/pdf/EDCOMM_Table_071008.pdf

This gives the requisite time necessary for course participants to receive and practice the information.

A course less than 24 hours should not be labeled a Level 1 course.  Anything less than that can be called an awareness course or be a shorter, introductory course for the Level 1.

AIARE course providers are required to offer 24 hour Level 1 courses in compliance with the AAA.  You will see AIARE courses offered in a variety of  schedulings; two evenings and two days, three full days, one evening and two longer days.  AIARE strives to comply with the guidelines set forth by the AAA in an effort to bring you a quality educational experience.  The Level 1 course may be the only avalanche course that many people attend.  Consequently, AIARE designed its Level 1 course to be a ‘stand alone’ decision maker’s course that will serve the recreational backcountry travel throughout a life time of decision making in avalanche terrain.

What is an AST Level 1 and AST Level 2 Course?

The AST courses are avalanche courses designed by the Canadian Avalanche Association and stand for Avalanche Skills Training.  The AST Level 1 would be considered more of an avalanche awareness course and the AST Level 2 would be a more advanced course.  These are excellent courses designed specifically for use in Canada as they use tools and nomenclature unique to Canadian avalanche training programs.  The AST Level 1 course is 16 hours in length and the AST Level 2 is 30 hours.  They do not represent equivalent US Level 1 and Level 2 courses which have specific guidelines developed by the AAA.   The CAA also offers advanced professional training; CAA Industry Training Program, labeled Avalanche Operations Level 1 and Level 2.