Course Description

The PRO 1 is a multi-faceted course designed for several audiences. 

  • Entry level professionals who are seeking training and certification for employment in avalanche programs at ski area, transportation, heli and ski tour guiding, alpine and expedition guiding, snowshoe guiding, snowmobile guiding, and public forecasting operations.
  • Working professionals who want to better understand current industry standards and best practices as part of continued career development.

The PRO 1 covers topics essential to the workplace including identifying and characterizing avalanche terrain, understanding how avalanches form and release, collecting and analyzing weather, snow, and avalanche data, and communicating hazard and risk factors. PRO 1 students conduct daily operational forecast meetings, apply effective communication strategies, and debrief field observations and decisions. The course includes pre-course reading, class presentations and field exercises, and daily travel near or in avalanche terrain.

Successful students receive a PRO 1 certificate that is a national standard audited by the American Avalanche Association (A3). The evaluation criteria is taught and coached by the instructors and then evaluated during field exercises, mock operational exercises, and a written exam. The criteria applies guidelines established by the A3 publication, Snow, Weather and Avalanches: Observational Guidelines for Avalanche Programs in the United States (SWAG ed. 2016). Single-rescuer avalanche response, route selection, and group management in avalanche terrain is also taught and evaluated.

Photos: Erica Engle, Chris Pruden, Will Finley, Ruby Mt Heli

AIARE currently offers PRO 1 programs with different Modes of Travel: Ski/Splitboard and Motorized. We are refining our Alpine-Focused/Foot Travel programming for future courses.  Please enquire directly if you have questions about custom courses.

  • Ski/Splitboard PRO 1 Programs are designed for the widest professional audience. Course participants must be able to safely travel downhill on skis/board through variable backcountry conditions. Participants must also be able to travel uphill at a moderate pace using skins.

  • Motorized PRO 1 Programs are built to meet the both the logistical and operational needs of snowmobile professionals, including snowmobile guides, educators, and operational safety personnel.  Participants need to provide their own machine and be proficient riders through variable backcountry conditions.

These programs share the same goals, learning outcomes, and curriculum, but field travel will occur using different tools. In addition, the operational exercises on these courses will be tailored to the user groups, such as snowmobile guiding operations for the motorized programs. 

We have suspended Lodge Based Programs for the 2020/2021 season.

Application Process

Applying for the PRO Program shows your commitment to continuing professional development and it requires a multi-step registration process to complete:

  1. Create an account- If you have do not already have an AIARE account, please create one prior to submitting application.
  2. Develop a portfolio- Compile all of the proper materials from the list below.
  3. Submit Payment-  Select the course you wish to attend from the list by clicking REGISTER NOW below,  then proceed through the Checkout Page. To be enrolled in the course you need to have paid the tuition and your application has been approved by our staff.

Developing a complete portfolio is the most critical step in the registration process. It should be taken seriously and carefully crafted in order to be considered for enrollment. Incomplete portfolios will not be accepted and will delay your registration process.  The following list represents all the items you will need to compile and include in this Google Form before enrollment in a course is complete.

  1. A resume showing the relevant backcountry winter travel experience and/or work experience. Please use the PRO 1 Resume to detail your experience.
  2. Three days of field book trip plans to demonstrate that you have applied the Level 1 principles of decision making in winter backcountry terrain. This could include the daily trip plan, field weather and snowpack observations, and debrief notes. You may also submit copies of operational meeting forms if you are currently working as a professional.  This documentation can be photos or screenshots, but all pieces should be consolidated into one document. You may use this Reference Letter Template completed by a supervisor that verifies your work experience and practice using risk management tools. This can be uploaded in lieu of field documents such as a fieldbook.
  3. Copy of your certificate of completion for AIARE 1 (or A3-recognized Recreational Level 1).
  4. Copy of your certificate of completion for AIARE Avalanche Rescue Course (or A3-recognized Avalanche Rescue Course).
  5. Read AIARE’s Cancellation Policy, Essential Eligibility Criteria, and Covid 19 Disclosure.

AIARE suggests taking a Level 2 course prior to taking the PRO 1. This is a great way to bolster your knowledge if you have only met the minimum requirements.

Register Now


Course Dates & Venue Details

Mammoth Lakes, CA – Venue Details  

Seats Available: 1 Immediate opening
Date: April 12-16, 2021
Cost: $1295
Classroom: Virtual
Field: Mammoth Mountain and surrounding backcountry


Cancellation Policy & Travel Insurance

Please visit our AIARE Course Cancellation page for detailed info.


Pre-Course Activity Overview

There are several pre-course activities to ensure each participant is ready to actively engage with the PRO 1 materials.  Enrolled students will receive a link to Google Classroom by September 1, 2020 with all pre-course materials.  25-30 hours of self-directed work is expected to complete these activities which include:

  • watching videos and practicing rescue skills and snow profile techniques and snowpack tests
  • reading several articles covering topics such as the Conceptual Model of Avalanche Hazard and SWAG
  • taking a quiz to refresh your knowledge on concepts from snow metamorphism to group risk management
  • pre-course webinar with instructors and students covering course logistics and review of activities. Expect 3-4 hours of dedicated time for this element of the PRO 1.
  • review the PRO Course Equipment List where you’ll find REQUIRED equipment for your course.


Goals & Objectives

The PRO 1 covers topics essential to the workplace including identifying and characterizing avalanche terrain, understanding how avalanches form and release, collecting and analyzing weather, snow, and avalanche data, and communicating hazard and risk factors. PRO 1 students conduct daily operational forecast meetings, apply effective communication strategies, and debrief field observations and decisions. The course includes pre-course reading, class presentations and field exercises and daily travel near or in avalanche terrain.

PRO 1 Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of avalanche formation and release
  • Conduct a solo-rescuer avalanche response and demonstrate competency to the determined standard. This includes locating two buried targets in a 50×50 meter area and excavating both buried targets to the snow surface within 7 minutes.
  • Conduct study plot weather observations. Identify relevant weather trends.
  • Conduct a snow profile. Choose a relevant test location and identify important layer and interface characteristics. Document using a snow profile form or digital drafting program.
  • Conduct a compression test and identify fracture character. Conduct an ECT and PST and identify propensity for crack propagation in the weak layer.
  • Observe and record avalanche occurrences. Identify important avalanche hazard factors that relate to a recent or current avalanche occurrence.
  • Assess current avalanche hazard factors and describe the avalanche problem and the avalanche danger trend.
  • Communicate the avalanche risk between team members.
  • Identify and apply strategies to mitigate bias and other challenges to individual and team decision making.
  • Relate the current and forecast avalanche problem to specific slopes and terrain features. As part of a trip plan and in the field, identify both terrain to avoid and terrain with less consequence.
  • Identify avalanche paths and describe the terrain characteristics that define the start zone, track, and avalanche run out.
  • Travel safely over snow in mountainous terrain.



Course assessment principles adhere to those described in the American Avalanche Association (A3) Professional Avalanche Training Guidelines and Proficiencies for the PRO 1 Course. Students are sent a description of the assessment plan and evaluation criteria prior to the course start date. A course grade of 70% is required to pass. In addition, 70% is required in each category to pass the course. Retests (after the course) are available for evaluation in Category 1, 2, and 4.

Category 1: Avalanche rescue skills (pass/fail). The skills are demonstrated, coached, and self-evaluated during the AIARE Avalanche Rescue course. The same proficiencies are evaluated on the first day during the PRO 1 course.  Adequate practice and familiarity with your gear is critical in order to achieve passing marks.

Category 2: Observation and Recording. This includes observation and record keeping of telemetry weather stations, study plot stations, and field weather and snow profiles and snowpack tests. All observation and recording methods are conducted applying SWAG guidelines.

Category 3: Hazard and Risk Analysis. This category combines hazard and risk identification and analysis and anticipated risk treatment. The mark also includes field monitor and review of conditions, field decisions, and day end summary observations. There is no retest of the Category 3 exam.

Category 4: Written Exam. The exam covers a variety of topics from the course to provide evaluation of student comprehension.

A3 PRO 1 Guidelines




Please visit AIARE’s Scholarship Page for a detailed list of the exciting scholarship opportunities we have for the coming season.