Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain

The AIARE program, Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain is an introduction to a mentored practice that engages backcountry travelers in the lifelong learning process that is an essential part of backcountry recreation. Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain introduces backcountry travelers to a repeatable risk management process, The AIARE Risk Management Framework or The AIARE Framework for short. The AIARE Framework helps a team work together to manage avalanche risk and make decisions in avalanche terrain. This program consists of three courses:


The objective of the AIARE 1 is to learn how to recognize risk in avalanche terrain. This three- day course provides an introduction to using The AIARE Framework to manage risk while traveling in avalanche terrain. By the end of the three day course, Participants should be able to repeat the process using their AIARE Fieldbooks, understand the limitation of their new skills, and make appropriately conservative decisions.


Avalanche Rescue is a one-day intensive course to learn how to manage a small team avalanche rescue. Avalanche Rescue keeps Participants current on their rescue skills and ensures that they can rescue their partners quickly. Avalanche Rescue is designed to be taken regularly in order to keep rescue skills sharp.


The objective of the AIARE 2 is to learn how to manage uncertainty in avalanche terrain. This three-day course is for those who have taken an AIARE 1, Avalanche Rescue, and have had at least one year of backcountry travel experience. The AIARE 2 provides more opportunities for coached application of The AIARE Framework to new terrain and conditions. This enables Participants to apply The AIARE Framework to new situations and contexts after the course such as traveling in a new region or replacing info from an avalanche center with info from local experts such as a ski patrol or guide service.

Avalanche education is a lifelong pursuit. Encourage Participants to take the entire program versus a “one and done” approach to their avalanche education. Instructors will note language and marketing that reflects this philosophy summarized by the table below.

ROLEContributor to a groupCoach application of a decision making process
LEARNING APPROACHIntroduction to a decision making processFacilitator of a group
  • Identify critical hazard factors
  • Recognize avalanche terrain
  • Communicate risk within a group
  • Assess the present hazard
  • Evaluate terrain complexity and consequence
  • Manage risk within a group