Our Mission

Saving Lives Through Avalanche Education

AIARE was established in 1998 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization to create an evidence-based avalanche education model for backcountry users with the belief that avalanche education, research, and training can prevent injuries and fatalities. AIARE develops and disseminates research-based avalanche curriculum to over 110 Providers nationwide, as well as in France, Chile, and Argentina, and also offers professional and avalanche instructor training courses.

Our History

The seed for AIARE was planted during a chance meeting between mountain guides in the California Sierra in 1992.

As AIARE co-founder and Swiss mountain guide Jean Pavillard taught courses for aspiring guides, he noticed that their avalanche knowledge was somewhat uneven, and attributed this to varying curriculum and quality among the avalanche education providers they’d learned from. That spring, he met fellow IFMGA guide Karl Klassen, and the two agreed that it was time for a unified approach to avalanche education.

At the time, the American Avalanche Association (A3) had published guidelines for what recreational avalanche curriculum should cover, but there was no nationally recognized curriculum. Meanwhile, backcountry recreation was exploding in popularity. As more people headed into avalanche terrain, both avalanche professionals and the public began to see the benefits of more widespread education on risk mitigation in the backcountry.

Enter Tom Murphy, then the course director for Pavillard’s Crested Butte-based guiding company. Murphy, too, recognized the need for an organized framework for assessing risk and moving through avalanche terrain from the bottom of the mountain up. Klassen began applying the curriculum development experience he’d gained through the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) to assist Pavillard and Murphy with their avalanche courses, and from this collaboration, AIARE was born in 1998.

From the start, AIARE integrated national and international standards and began to incorporate a decision-makers’ approach to risk management in avalanche education. An instructor training program was initiated to maintain consistency among instructors—those who deliver courses in the field and in the classroom—as well as provide them with pedagogical best practices for interacting with students, along with a forum for information exchange and professional development. AIARE standards and guidelines adhere to existing national and international standards, such as those developed by the A3 and CAA. In addition, AIARE consults with qualified instructors when developing new curriculum and supplementary materials, so the products we develop and distribute are based on a wide variety of experience, background, and knowledge. The result is a consensus-driven process that has produced an avalanche education program and training courses that meet the needs of the trainers and course participants alike.

Today, AIARE curriculum provides avalanche education to more backcountry travelers than any other single avalanche education organization in the United States and trains over 100 new instructors every season. AIARE continues to develop standardized curricula for a complete program of avalanche courses that meets the needs of students at all levels; from recreational to professional, from novice to advanced.