Frequently Asked Questions

If I don’t have all the gear, where can I get it?

If you don’t have backcountry touring gear, you can rent it.  

In Jackson:

  1. Teton Mountaineering – 307-733-3595
  2. Wilson Backcountry Sports – 307-733-5228
  3. Skinny Skis – 307-733-6094
  4. Hoback Sports – 307-733-5335
  5. Teton Backcountry Rentals – 307-828-1885

In Salt Lake City:

  1. Wasatch Touring – 801-359-9361
  2. REI – 801-486-2100
  3. Black Diamond – 801-278-0233
  4. University of Utah – 801-581-8516

In Park City:

  1. White Pine Touring – 435-649-8710
  2. Jans.com – 435-649-4949

In Bozeman:

  1. World Boards (splitboards) – 406-587-1707
  2. Montana State University – 406-994-3621
  3. Grizzly Outfitters (Big Sky, MT)  – 406-995-2939
Which course should I sign up for?
  1. The first course in the avalanche course progression is the Level 1 course.  It is 24 hours of instruction, 60% in the field and 40% in the classroom.  The focus is to provide a systematic approach to backcountry travel, from pre-trip planning to recognition of avalanche terrain to communication within groups.
  2. Already taken a level 1?  Not a professional in the industry?  The recreational course track is the right fit if you are a new or seasoned backcountry traveler who is not working in the snow and avalanche industry. This track is for you if you’re looking for skills and knowledge to travel in a snow-covered environment. Courses in the recreational track are designed to offer a systematic approach to backcountry travel – from pre-trip planning to recognition of avalanche terrain to communication within groups.
  3. The professional course track is the right fit if you are an avalanche professional or an aspiring avalanche worker. This track is for you if you’re working as a ski patroller, a ski guide, a snowmobile guide, an avalanche forecaster, or aspire to fill any of these positions in the future.
  4. If neither of these are the perfect fit, try a custom course.  We have experience working with recreationists and professionals to build courses that meet their needs.  Contact us for information.
  5. Can I get more information about the professional/recreational education tracks?
    1. Yes! See here for answers on common questions about the pro/rec split.
    2. And here is a graph of the pro/rec split.
What is included in an American Avalanche Institute course?
  1. Professional instruction
  2. Course workbooks
  3. Classroom and field instruction
  4. Lift tickets (unless otherwise noted), if the course is operating out of a ski area
What is not included in an American Avalanche Institute course?
  1. Transportation to and from the trailhead
  2. Personal gear
  3. Avalanche rescue gear
  4. Food
I can’t ski or snowboard. Can I still do a course with you?

Most AAI courses run on skis or snowboards. This is because a big part of what we teach is terrain selection. With this in mind we want to travel through as much terrain as we can during the course, and being on skis or a snowboard allows this. That said, if you only have snowshoes, please call the office to discuss options.

I have a backcountry set up, but I’m not a very good skier/rider. I’m worried I won’t be able to keep up.

Don’t worry!  It’s an avalanche course not a skiing course. We use skis or splitboards to travel through the mountains for efficiency. If you can link parallel turns on a blue run in resort then you’ll be fine on our courses. That said, if we can ski or ride some fun lines while we travel through the mountains, we certainly will.

What if I’m a beginner in the backcountry?

No problem.  We don’t expect you to arrive at an introductory course with backcountry experience.  We have made a series of videos for you to reference, in order to better prepare you for the field days.

My avalanche beacon is pretty old. Is that OK? Do I need a newer one?

Each participant on an avalanche course should have a digital avalanche beacon that transmits on the 457 khz frequency and has 2 or 3 antennae.  If you have an old analogue beacon, then it really needs to be retired.  Here’s an article about beacons and when to retire them.

How likely is it that my course will run? What happens if it’s canceled by AAI?

We haven’t cancelled an advertised course yet! We need a minimum number to run a course, but our courses book up quickly so that has not been an issue. In fact the main problem we have is having to turn people away as they try and book too late. Many of our courses are full before winter has even started!  Should AAI need to cancel a course, we will do our best to reschedule you in a different course or we will refund your money.

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