AIARE 3: Advanced Avalanche Training for Professionals and Recreational Leaders

(Please note the AIARE Pro 2 replaces the AIARE 3 course starting in the winter season of 2017-18. There will be changes to the course curriculum and will be a 6 day course. The prerequisite for taking the AIARE Pro 2 course will be the AIARE Pro 1. Please contact AIARE if you have questions. More course details forthcoming).

The AIARE 3 course is an advanced certification course for experienced and professional avalanche practitioners, professional guides, patrollers and advanced baker_avy_march_2012recreational backcountry travelers. The course is 7 days long.

The AIARE 3 course completes the AIARE professional avalanche course stream of the AIARE 2 and AIARE 3 (11 days all together).  Individuals who receive a passing grade and successfully complete the course receive a certificate provided by the AIARE administration.

Registration for each of the AIARE 3 programs will close when either the class roster is full, or two weeks prior to the program, whichever comes first.

Please note: AIARE is offering one AIARE 3 course this summer in Chile.

2017 AIARE 3 Course Schedule – Corralco, Chile

 View Class Details Class Type Date Begin Date End Location State
 Class details AIARE 3 August 3, 2017 August 9, 2017 Corralco Chile

To sign up for a course, login to your AIARE account, then click on “class details” for the course of interest in the table above.

AIARE 3 Course Overview

The 7 day AIARE 3: Advanced Avalanche Training for Professionals and Recreational Leaders meets the standards and requirements of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) as a prerequisite for guides education and certification.

The AIARE 3 course is an advanced certification course for experienced and professional avalanche practitioners, professional guides, patrollers and advanced recreational backcountry travelers. The course is 7 days long and completes the AIARE professional avalanche course stream of the AIARE 2 and 3 (11 days together). Individuals who receive a passing grade and successfully complete the AIARE 3 course receive a certificate provided by the AIARE administration.


The AIARE 3 course provides course participants with an industry based framework to make decisions in avalanche terrain and to manage avalanche hazards common to avalanche control operations and winter guiding scenarios. Participants are required to form opinions, to take on leadership roles, and to utilized team members skills to assist in the process of forecasting avalanche hazard and snow stability and making appropriate terrain choices. Course goals also include evaluating each participant to the AIARE 3 standard.

The AIARE 3 course builds on the concepts introduced in the prerequisite AIARE 2, includingsnowcystals-2 standardizing snow and weather observations and techniques to the Snow, Weather, and Avalanche Guidelines of the American Avalanche Association (2010).  The AIARE 3 takes the “trained observer and technician” and begins the process of making the information relevant to the complexities, variability, and influences of terrain.

If you have specific questions regarding the AIARE 3 program dates, locations, equipment, prerequisites, etc, get in touch with Ben Pritchett, Program Director at:

Course Objectives

  • Practice using an avalanche hazard analysis and risk forecasting process.
  • Form opinions and reach a consensus as part of a group decision regarding snow stability, avalanche hazard, and applied risk management.
    Each day begins with a forecast, spends time making decisions in the field, and ends with a hazard analysis and review of risk treatment strategies employed. Hazard assessment and risk evaluation decisions are carefully briefed, coached, and debriefed.
  • Improve participants’ observation and recording skills.
  • Improve the participant’s terrain analysis skills
  • Improve decision making in the field.
  • Improve understanding of the creation and metamorphism of the mountain snowpack.
  • Encourage active participation and group decision making.
  • Advance participant’s knowledge of companion rescue.

The AIARE 3 instructors are required to be current with the latest research and educational tools in use by snow avalanche practitioners and instructors. Each course is presented by a variety of experienced instructors including mountain and ski guides, and avalanche professionals whose background includes ski area or highways control procedures.

Course Limitations

Limited time is available for operational search and rescue techniques in the AIARE 3 curriculum. While updates are provided and some components are reviewed, candidates are expected to be completely familiar with and fully practiced in all aspects of small party (companion) backcountry avalanche search and rescue techniques prior to the course start date.

No course or training can take the place of practical analysis and forecasting experience, although practical experience can be enhanced by the exchange of ideas, discussion among peers and challenging personal or established ideas.

You will not be an avalanche forecaster when you leave the AIARE 3 course: if you were one when you came, you may not be a better one after taking it. Obtaining or improving forecasting and risk management skills depends entirely on what you do with the information you hear and see while in class and on the slopes.

AIARE 3 Instructional Sessions (approximately 78 hours of class or field instruction)

  1. Pre course study and quiz
  2. Avalanche Terrain.
    – Spatial variability and developing “excellent terrain skills”.
    – Lectures, Case histories, and field terrain discussions
  3. Craftsmanship and professional standards
  4. Review of study plot weather and snow profile techniques
    – Calculating densities
    – Drafting techniques
  5. Review of snow crystals, sub-classifications
  6. Operational stability and hazard forecasting
    – Twice daily meetings: am forecast; evening analysis
    – Operational forms and recording methods
    – Information exchange with nearest neighbor operations
    – Weather forecasting: actual data, upper level data, ridgetop data, weather maps and images, forecasts, storm cycle trends
    – Avalanche path photos and image use
    – Run list use in hazard forecasts
  7. Avalanche safety equipment: burial prevention, reducing burial time, increasing survival time
  8. Companion rescue:
    – Review of pinpointing on a line, multiple burials (3 circle search, micro strip search) techniques, shovel techniques
    – Teaching techniques for patrol and clientele.
  9. Terrain travel and group management
    – Relate the Wx forecast to field weather observation
    – Gathering accurate info while moving through the terrain
    – “Off line” information: quick tests to confirm information known and to reveal variation.
    – Terrain discussions include: targeting known stability issues, anticipating, visualizing where will avalanches occur, where will the fracture occur, triggering, potential size, depth, width, and length.
    – Creating options in the terrain
    – Keeping field decisions consistent with office forecasts
    – Human factors affecting team and team leader decisions
    – Hazard evaluation, control decisions and safety margins
  10. Comparing field tests to study plot information. Including probing, hand tests, bonding tests, test profiles, RB, fracture line profiles, ski tests, etc.
    – Targeting weak layers
    – Stressing site selection/relevancy
    – More info over space to add to baseline data
    – Use of snow profile checklist (“Yellow Flags, Lemons”) to prioritize characteristics
  11. Case Study: Operational decision-making
    – Introduces a model of how decisions are made
    – Reviews terms which include judgment, decision making, common sense, heuristic traps
    – Illustrates human error and heuristic traps with a case study
    – Student groups identify and describe heuristic traps in the case study
    – Describes McCammon’s definitions of Heuristic Traps
    – Concludes with common operational procedures to mitigate human errors.
  12. Preparing for the examination process
    – Describe profile and field weather testing procedures
    – Describe terrain exam procedures
    – Describe written exam procedures
  13. Exam Day
    – Field terrain exam (includes control targets and exercise to illustrate variability)
    – Class terrain exam from photos
    – Weather observations exam
    – Snow profile exam
    – Written exam (includes storm profile analysis)
    – Issuing a public bulletin
  14. Course close
    – Reviews the goals stated by the students at the beginning of the week.
    – Links to continued professional development, skill development, participation in seminars, AAA membership etc.
    – Debriefs student’s strengths and weaknesses
    – Student feedback form

AIARE 3 Student Prerequisites

AIARE 3 is a course that requires students to travel safely and efficiently in avalanche terrain. Students arrive mentally and physically prepared for 6-7 days of travel on rugged terrain up to and exceeding 30 degrees, trail breaking, and 8 hours of travel carrying a day pack with rescue equipment and clothing.

Students register for the AIARE 3 by submitting an online application which documents they have met the prerequisites listed below:

  1. AIARE 2 course (or equivalent as documented through a Prior Learning Assessment and Review)
  2. Experience applying the AIARE 2 skills and knowledge (including observation and recording techniques) in a professional or personal program is required.
  3. Personal resume, including documentation of:
    – Twenty day-trips in avalanche terrain requiring decision-making and travel procedures, along with standard professional (AAA SWAG or CAA OGRS) observation records.  Note:  documentation may include AIARE Trip Plans, AM/PM forms, observations submitted to a avalanche center, route sheets etc….
    – Ten recent snow profiles (documented in field book to same standards).
  4. Rescue:
    – Must be able to find (by probe) two transceivers buried in a 30m by 30m area in six minutes. (One transceiver is buried 80 cm below the surface and the second is buried 120 cm below the surface, 4-5m apart.). Note, whenever possible practice with transceivers buried at least 1m deep; and searching for at least two conflicting signals. – Led a companion rescue team in a mock avalanche rescue scenario OR have training and experience in a professional search and rescue group (e.g. ski patrol, etc.).
  5. Prior to the start of the AIARE 3 course, it is required that the student complete the Pre-Course Quiz, and bring a printed and complete hard copy to hand-in at the course start.

Students with the following specific knowledge and experience will be able to obtain maximum benefit from the AIARE 3 course. Each student has an applied knowledge of:

  1. Formation of persistent weak layers: The effects of temperature gradient on the snowpack, snow metamorphism (faceting, rounding, melt-freeze process) and surface hoar formation.
  2. Identification of avalanche prone terrain: Knowledge of where avalanches historically occur, experience reducing group exposure to avalanche terrain, and practice leading groups safely through avalanche terrain.
  3. Application of SWAG or CAA OGRES observation and recording guidelines for observing and recording weather, snowpack, and avalanches information.
  4. Application of the mountain weather forecast to group trip planning and daily avalanche hazard and risk management.

AIARE 3 Assessment Criteria

AIARE 3 participants are eligible for certification:

  1. Upon completing the pre-course reading and questionnaire.
  2. Attending the classroom sessions including the twice-daily morning and evening forecast and analysis meetings. Students are required to completing the homework assignments to a professional level and participate in the group discussions and sessions.
  3. Attending the field sessions and participating in the group discussions and exercises.

AIARE 3 Participants are eligible for certification after attaining the minimum passing grade of 70% in the marking categories:

  1. Avalanche hazard management skills     45%
  • Recognition 15%
  • Analysis 15%
  • Response 15%
  1. Technical Skills and Knowledge     55%
  • Field weather observations and recording 5 %
  • Snowpack observations and tests 20 %
  • Operational forecast and analysis forms 10 %
  • Professional notebook 5 %
  • Final Written Exam 15%

It is required that the AIARE Program Director confirm the resume with references or have the student forward a photocopy of a field notebook illustrating field observations.

Required equipment for all avalanche courses: Equipment List