In 1992, Jean Pavillard, AIARE Co-Founder, was instructing guides courses for the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). During a spring course in the California Sierra, he met visiting guide, Karl Klassen, and his chance meeting led to the eventual formation of AIARE.
Karl and Jean were fully certified IFMGA guides, Karl from Canada and Jean from Switzerland, living in Crested Butte, Colorado at the time. From the start, they both agreed the guide candidates presented an uneven avalanche knowledge during their California courses.
The United States had no nationally recognized curriculum although the American Avalanche Association (A3) had published avalanche course guidelines. While many excellent avalanche course providers existed, avalanche education lacked consistency across providers. Consequently, candidates came with varying degrees of knowledge.
Meanwhile, backcountry recreation was becoming increasingly popular. More and more, people were heading into avalanche terrain and could see the benefits of education on risk mitigation in the backcountry.
Tom Murphy was course director for Jean’s guiding company, Adventures to the Edge in Crested Butte, Colorado, and he, as well, saw a need for a unified approach to avalanche education. People needed a method, a framework for assessing risk and moving through avalanche terrain; from the bottom of the mountain and up. With Karl’s course curriculum development experience from the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA), he began assisting Tom and Jean with their avalanche courses in Crested Butte. AIARE was born from this collaboration. Course providers began to hear about AIARE, and they became interested in the development of the program. AIARE worked on integrating 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 keep instructors, presenters of the curriculum, consistent as well as provide a forum for information exchange and professional development.
Today, the organization provides avalanche education to more backcountry travelers than any other single avalanche education organization in the United States.