Avalanche Courses


Aspen Alpine Guides is partnered with The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE).

AIARE Avalanche Courses

Aspen Alpine Guides (AAG) offers a comprehensive schedule of avalanche courses that follow the curriculum for Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain from The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE).

Instructor to Student ratio 1:6

Course Instructors

Aspen Alpine Guides has offered formal Avalanche Education Programs for the past 20 years. All AAG courses are instructed by AIARE trained Instructors and Course Leaders. AAG instructors are current backcountry professionals that actively work as Ski Guides, Ski Patrol and Avalanche Forecasters (Colorado Avalanche Information Center), and Flight for Life Avalanche Deployment Team members. Additionally, we emphasize professional memberships with the American Avalanche Association, American Mountain Guide Association, Mountain Rescue Aspen.

Instructors and Course Leaders Include

  • Mark Falender
  • Deb Kelly
  • Scott Messina
  • Chad Mickschl
  • Jean Pavillard
  • Ron Rash
  • Stephen Szoradi
  • Pete Van Deventer

AIARE Level I Avalanche Classes

AIARE Level I Avalanche: 10th Mt. Sangree M. Froelicher Hut

Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain: 3 Nights / 3 Days

Price: $375 per person

  • Thursday January 15 - 18, 2015
  • Thursday January 29 - February 1, 2015
  • Thursday February 19 - 22, 2015
  • Thursday March 5 - 8, 2015

AAG has partnered up with the 10th Mountain Division Hut to offer Level I Avalanche classes in the ideal learning environment: the backcountry. These three-night, three-day courses enable all participants to experience backcountry conditions within the 10th Mountain Hut system by using the Sangree M. Froelicher Hut as a base for the course and fieldwork. 

The AIARE Level I Certification Course is a 3 day / 24 credit hour introduction to avalanche hazard management.

The course will:

  • Provide a basic understanding of avalanches.
  • Describe a framework for decision making and risk management in avalanche terrain.
  • Focus on identifying the right questions, rather than on providing "answers."
  • Give lessons and exercises that are practically oriented, useful, and applicable in the field.

Students can expect:

  • To develop a good understanding of how to prepare for and carry out a trip.
  • To understand basic decision making while in the field such as terrain and route options.
  • To learn techniques required to rescue a buried person with beacon, shovel and probe.

AIARE Level I Avalanche: Aspen Hut Based

Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain: 2 evenings / 2 days in the field

Price: $375 per person

  • Please call for hut scheduling

In addition to the Hut based course offerings, AAG runs a series of AIARE courses that can be taken while staying in town. The evening Sessions are held in town while the Field Work days are held in nearby areas where route finding and terrain selection can be experienced. Similar in curriculum to the Hut based courses, these "stand alone" courses also emphasize decision making skills for safety and risk management along with safe terrain selection.

The AIARE Level I Certification Course is a 3 day / 24 credit hour introduction to avalanche hazard management.

AIARE Level I Avalanche: Aspen

Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain: 1 Night / 2 Days with Evenings

Price: $295 per person

  • January 9 - 11, 2015 (Friday night, Saturday and Sunday)
  • February 6 - 8, 2015 (Friday night, Saturday and Sunday)
  • February 27 - March 1, 2015 (Friday night, Saturday and Sunday)
  • March 20 - 22, 2015 (Friday night, Sturday and Sunday)

The AIARE Level 1 course is for active on-mountain and side country skiers and riders who want quick access to high alpine terrain, but who also want to know what they are moving through.

The course is recommended for skiers and snowboarders with a 6 to 7 Ski School Level (PSIA) ability. Participants should be comfortable on blue runs in any and all conditions and should be exploring black runs in various conditions.

Programming will vary, but areas will include:

  • Day 1: The back side of Buttermilk / Sugar Bowls
  • Day 2: Snowmass beacon park / Powderhorn / Burnt Mt.
  • Day 3: Aspen Mt. / Richmond Ridge

AIARE Level II Avalanche Classes

AIARE Level II Avalanche: Aspen

Analyzing Snow Stability and Avalanche Hazard: 2 Nights / 3 Days with Evenings

Price: $485 per person

  • Please call for scheduling

The Level II course is designed for backcountry and recreational group leaders who want to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills.

The Curriculum will Include:

  • Advance understanding of avalanche terrain, particularly from the perspective of stability analysis.
  • Discuss how the snowpack develops and metamorphoses over time; and discuss the factors that contribute to spatial variability.
  • Learn standard observation guidelines and recording formats for factors that influence or indicate snow stability. SWAG MODULE.
  • Advance understanding of avalanche release and triggering mechanisms.
  • Introduce a snow stability analysis and forecasting framework.
  • Improve companion rescue skills including multiple and deep burials.

The AIARE Level II Course is a 40 hour program.

This course also includes the introductory and prerequisite components for the professional progression: Level III Certification