AIARE Level 1 Description

Level 1 Avalanche Course

Course Description:


At the completion of AIARE Level 1 students should be able to:

  • Plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain
  • Recognize avalanche terrain
  • Describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain
  • Learn and apply effective companion rescue

Instructional Sessions: (24 hours including both class and field instruction)

1. Introduction to the Avalanche Phenomena

  • Types and characteristics of avalanches
  • Avalanche motion and size classifications
  • The mountain snowpack; an introduction to metamorphism and layering

2. Observations and Information Gathering

  • Field observation techniques
  • Snow column tests
  • Avalanche danger factors;”Red Flags”
  • Observation Checklists
  • Avalanche danger scale

3. Trip planning and preparation
4. Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment and selection
5. Route finding and travel techniques
6. Decision making and the human factors
7. Companion rescue and equipment

Course Itenerary

This course requires 24 hours of indoor and field time so it is imperative that all classes start on time

Day One:

Starts inside with four to five hours of classroom lecture and moves outside for three to four hours of transceiver and snow tests. No ski/snowboard equipment is needed for day one. We will, however, be spending time outside on snow so be sure to dress appropriately with snow boots and winter clothing.

Day Two:

Day two will again start inside with three to four hours of classroom lecture and review of previous days materials. Ski or snowboard equipment and a pass or lift ticket is required for day two as four to five hours will be spent outside on the mountain within the ski area boundaries working on identifying avalanche terrain and properly moving through it. Different varieties of downhill travel techniques will be discussed. Touring gear is not required for day two.

Day Three:

Day three will meet in the classroom for a quick review and trip planning preparation. The rest of the day will be spent outside in a simulated backcountry tour. We will explore uphill and downhill travel techniques, explore avalanche terrain, look for terrain traps, trigger points, start zones and avalanche paths. Touring gear is required: alpine touring gear, telemark equipment or splitboards and appropriate skins is acceptable(snowshoes are not allowed).

Level 1 Course Equipment List:


  • Telemark skis, randonee skis or splitboard with skins to fit*
  • Boots – Telemark, randonee or snowboard boots
  • Poles (adjustable or alpine length)
  • Backpack, shovel, probe and transceiver**
  • Food and water for all day outing
  • Personal gear / equipment
  • Clothing for activities and standing in cold / snowy weather (no cotton)
  • Long underwear and insulating layers (Polypro is great)
  • Outer layers (wind and waterproof)
  • Warm gloves and beanie (good to have ball cap and extra gloves as well)
  • Sunglasses, goggles and sunscreen

*Expedition:Kirkwood has a limited number of alpine touring equipment and splitboards. Please indicate your needs at the time of registration.

Please contact Expedition:Kirkwood at 209.258.7360 to make arrangements prior to course.

**If you do not have a backpack, shovel, probe or beacon, you can rent a set-up for $25.

Optional Equipment (Recommended but not required)

  • Cordellette and carabineers
  • Repair Kit – duct tape, pocket knife, multi-purpose tools, screwdriver, wire
  • First Aid Kit – aspirin, mole skin, scissors, elastic bandages and adhesive tape
  • Lighter or fireproof matches

Additional Resources: