AIARE L1 Avalanche Course

  • PLEASE NOTE: We will continue with remote learning for our 2021-2022 Avy course season; coursework will be a mix of Zoom sessions & self-paced learning/reading via Google Classroom. The 2 field days will still operate as normal. Instructors will contact students with all details prior to the course start.

    The AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course provides a complete introduction to the avalanche phenomenon, avalanche terrain, decision making, and rescue. In a continental snowpack such as the Elk Mountains, AEW's customized instruction maximizes student learning outcomes as they relate to backcountry travel. Aspen Expeditions has been teaching avalanche courses since 1980 and has an intimate knowledge of the Colorado snowpack. The AIARE instructors, IFMGA/AMGA trained/certified ski guides have extensive experience guiding, teaching and skiing the backcountry. Aspen Expeditions' mountain guide service combines experience, knowledge-base, and access to backcountry ski terrain in Colorado's White River National Forest.

    The Level 1 Course includes +/-8 hours of classroom instruction and +/-16 hours of field instruction. The course cost includes AIARE manual, AIARE dues & AIARE field book. Subjects covered include;

    • Types of avalanches
    • Characteristics of avalanches
    • How avalanches form and release
    • Assessing avalanche terrain
    • Trip planning and preparation
    • Route Finding Decision making
    • Avalanche gear review (beacons, probes, airbags, etc.)
    • Rescue protocols and procedures

    Please feel free to contact us via phone at 970-925-7625 or email to request more information. Custom dates available!

  • Location: Meet at Aspen Expeditions' backcountry center at Aspen Highlands.

    Maximum Guide Ratio: 6:1

    Fitness Level: All courses are designed for the groups physical ability and needs.

    Includes: AIARE instructor/AMGA trained/certified ski guide, use of avalanche beacon, shovel, probe & ski pack, AIARE dues, AIARE field book, 3% USFS land use surcharge

    Not included: personal skiing equipment (Alpine Touring (AT) ski, or snowboard equipment (available for demo at $15 discount), single ride lift tickets ($30 - often the instructors use Aspen Mountain to gain access to higher elevation snow which would require a lift ticket for a one time gondola ride), lunch/snack food.

    Avalanche Course participants will receive the following discounts: 50% discount on AT demo ski equipment, $50 off a Mammut airbag, $25 off an Intro Avalanche Gear Equipment Package or $30 off a Guide Recommended Avalanche Gear Equipment Package, $25 discount on Aspen Expeditions ski camps.
  • Weekend course;

    • Day 1 - 5 pm: meet at Aspen Expeditions' Backcountry Center
    • Day 2 - 8:30 am: start, combination classroom and field instruction, 5:30 pm evening classroom
    • Day 3 - Start determined by instructor for a field day

    Weekday course;

    • Day 1 - 8:30 am: start, full day of classroom instruction
    • Day 2 - 8:30 am: start, combination classroom and field instruction
    • Day 3 - Start determined by instructor for a field day


    The following items are provided for your day tour:

    • Day-tour backpack: (airbag available)
    • Avalanche Transceiver
    • Probe
    • Avy shovel: metal blade is a must


    • Socks: Wool or synthetic ski socks
    • Base layers: Synthetic, wool or silk bottom, underwear and top
    • Mid Layer: Synthetic or wool zip shirt
    • Hard Shell or Softshell pants: A pair with side vents are best.
    • Insulated vest or jacket: down or synthetic.


    • Water bottle
    • Small thermos: (Optional)
    • Sunscreen and lip balm: water/sweat-proof
    • Headlamp
    • Toiletries, Personal first-aid kit: for your personal meds/needs
    • Camera or Smartphone
    • Lunch/Snack food
  • Prep

    Aspen Expeditions' will provide you with a pack w/probe, shovel & avalanche beacon if your don't have your own gear. If you need alpine touring ski equipment (AT skis, skins, boots) we can arrange to set you up at Aspen Highlands shop or the night before between 3:00-5:00 pm.

    Participants will travel through the winter backcountry for field days on skis, splitboard with skins, or snowshoes. Come dressed appropriately with warm layers for moderate physical exertion in cool and wintry weather.


    It is suggested that you maintain a good level of physical fitness. Maintain and build heart and lung endurance with cardiovascular activities such as swimming, cycling, running and hiking. Hike up hill, up stairs or do squats to prepare your legs for mountain travel.


    Follow an avalanche course with a day of lift-served and/or backcountry ski ski day, a backcountry ski tour, a backcountry ski camp, hut trip or international ski trip.


    Booking/Cancellation policy:

    AE requires a full credit card or cash/check payment to hold your reservation. If you choose to cancel within 7 days of a scheduled trip, you will be charged full price. Within 7-14 days of your trip, we would be happy to work out a date to reschedule. If you choose to cancel 2 weeks or more (3 weeks or more for multi-day trips of 5+ people) prior to your scheduled trip, you will receive a full refund. If your guide decides that weather makes your scheduled trip a no-go, we will work with you to reschedule, give you a credit, or refund your trip. Travel Guard insurance is available via our website homepage.

    Risk Management

    Please note: AEW's number one priority is your safety. Many conditions affect our guides' decisions in the mountains, including client fitness and comfort, weather conditions and route conditions. There are inherent hazards in mountain travel such as inclement weather, avalanches, rock fall, ice fall that our guides manage yet cannot eliminate. The combination of our guides' formal training and wealth of experience assures that their sound decision create an enjoyable and safe mountain experience. Aspen Expeditions reserves the right to turn around or change routes without refunds or credits under any conditions.

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