Avalanche Level 1 Course curriculum brought to you by:
We teach a complete program of curriculum established and developed by the American Avalanche Institute (AAI).
Take your avalanche education to the next level with our one-of-a-kind hut trips! Our Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trips are based out of various huts throughout Colorado. You’ll spend three days and two nights exploring backcountry terrain on skis, splitboard, or snowshoes with dedicated AAI instructors. Whether you’re new to the backcountry or an experienced veteran, our hut-based avalanche courses give quick access to exciting terrain that will provide a fun atmosphere for learning firsthand.
Our team is made of experienced AAI instructors and professional mountain guides with decades of experience in avalanche terrain. This experience comes from the Alps to Alaska to right here in the Front Range of Colorado. Colorado is one of the country’s premier backcountry skiing and splitboarding destinations. With permits and access to multiple huts, we can offer an accessible trip for all ability levels. This Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip course combines classroom and field instruction, providing your group with a solid introduction to avalanche awareness. This course covers traveling in and around avalanche terrain, while gaining insight into decision-making strategies. This course also covers the human factors involved in avalanches, developing planning and travel techniques, and comprehensive rescue skills. Experience how avalanche beacons work, how to dig and analyze a snow pit, how to use the AAI Backcountry Checklist, and more.
By completing this course with the American Avalanche Institute, you will receive a certificate of completion from AAI and join a network of tens of thousands of Level 1 avalanche training graduates.
For 50 years, the American Avalanche Institute has provided one the most successful professional and recreational avalanche training programs. At the recreational and professional levels, their courses and curricula are fully approved by the American Avalanche Association (A3). AAI’s guides, avalanche professionals, and educators create the best recreational and professional avalanche courses in the world.
- Meet and Greet – Trailhead TBD or local coffee shop
- Waivers (Grand Hut, Colorado Mountain School)
- Equipment rentals
- Gear checks (boots, puffy, food, avalanche equipment)
- Introduction to the AAI Backcountry Checklist
- Transition to Trailhead
- Beacon Check & travel to Hut
- Hut Orientation
- Course Introduction
- Colorado Mountain School (who we are and what we do)
- AAI (who they are and what they do)
- Course overview (daily schedule, course goals)
- Course logistics
- Student manual, field book, pencil
- Risk management (explain waiver, specific hazards; mitigation
strategies – everyone is a risk manager)
- Intro to Companion Rescue
- Function check, range check, flux lines demo
- Pinpoint Probing
- strategic shoveling, v-dig, conveyor belt
- Rescue practice, coaching and scenario
- Return to Hut
- Introduction to Avalanches – The Avalanche Triangle
- Avalanche types and nomenclature
- Understanding the avalanche bulletin
- Terrain Recognition, Route Finding and ATES
- Debrief & Dinner Planning
- Overview of Upcoming Day;
- Review of Previous Day
- The Mountain Snowpack
- Mountain Weather and its influence on avalanche formation
- Introduction to stability tests and field observations
- Field Observation Tour;
- Intro to Snow Pits
- Weather observations
- Measuring slope angles and terrain management
- Return to hut
- Post-tour discussion, share obs, concerns and changes for next day
- Human Factors and Heuristics
- Tour planning (tools, tips, tricks)
- Homework – tour plan in field groups
- Dinner Prep
- AM Avalanche and weather briefing
- Review and discuss tour plans
- Backcountry checklist
- Pack personal gear; stash in building
- Hut Clean-up
- Student-Led Ski Tour- out in front, setting pace, making
- Goals for the day: group leadership, pacing practice, group
communication in circles, field observations, pits, companion rescue,
identifying avalanche terrain, choosing terrain and practicing travel
wisely techniques, navigation skills, self-care
- Choose terrain and travel wisely
- Course Debrief (at hut)
- Next steps: where to go from here?
- Resources: Mountain Hub, CalTopo, BCA website, CMS, CAIC, Front Range Ski
- Travel to trailhead
- Course Close
Three nights of lodging is included at Seven Utes Yurt.
We believe that avalanche training is best taught by combining theoretical concepts and experiential learning. Some topics are best learned in a comfortable classroom setting and others in the mountains, moving through terrain and digging into the snow. You’ll have both.
The majority of your course will take place in the mountains where we will learn in an open-air environment. You should be prepared, mentally and physically, to stay immersed in the backcountry for up to six hours. You will be assigned to a small pod consisting of one AIARE Instructor and a maximum of six students to allow intimate instruction and physical distancing.
The nature of this pandemic requires us to be flexible and adaptable in how we deliver a quality training experience. Rest assured, from the moment you enroll all the way up to your course field days and beyond, our instructors will be a part of your learning progression and will provide you with the tools and resources you need to best prepare for your avalanche training course. If you’d like to learn more about what we are doing to manage COVID-19 risk for our students and guides, please view our FAQ page.
Why Take a course with the American Avalanche Institute?
- The AAI curriculum was developed, refined and honed by working Professionals in some of the most avalanche prone mountain ranges of North America.
- Our Instructors are educators, not just minimally qualified instructors
- We spend the majority of the course in the mountains, not indoors
- We provide valuable pre-course material to help you prepare
- We provide bonus education opportunities to help you keep learning
- Our Instructors are career guides, with decades of personal backcountry experience
- We have a full-time office staff of GUIDES to answer all of your questions
- Dozens of course dates to meet our guests scheduling needs
- Get avalanche training in the ski venue you ski in locally
All Upcoming Dates and Locations:
- February 23, 2024 - February 25, 2024 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado