Avalanche Studies


A key skill in backcountry skiing is evaluating avalanche hazard and applying that evaluation to your tour planning, route finding, and ski descents. I'm happy to be able to offer these courses as private trips at competitive costs. Get three of your friends to join you and get out there!

To learn more about my ski itineraries, click here: LINK.


Avalanche Rescue Skills

This one-day trip aims to give new backcountry skiers the basic skills needed to make them a reliable trip partner. After a morning spent reviewing the avalanche hazard forecast and checking basic equipment, we'll take a short tour at Snoqualmie Pass suited to your downhill ski skills. Enroute we'll look for and identify avalanche hazards to our tour, travel techniques to minimize our risk, and avalanche rescue practice to be prepared for emergencies.


Avalanche 1 - Basic Avalanche Studies

The AIARE 1 is an introduction to avalanche hazard management. This course is prepared for backcountry travelers who do not have any avalanche safety training yet. It is a judgement-based course packed with information. You'll be introduced to mountain weather, snow pack formation and changes over time, tour planning, hazard recognition and evaluation, snow pack analysis, avalanche rescue and more.

This course can be offered in two formats - three full days, or two evening indoor sessions followed by two field days.


Avalanche 2 - Intermediate Avalanche Studies

The AIARE 2 course is a 4-day program that builds on the Avalanche 1 and advances your knowledge of avalanche stability and in-the-field decision making skills. This course is ideal for aspiring ski guides, ski patrollers, or experienced backcountry travellers who are looking to learn the industry standards for recording and observing factors critical to avalanche hazard evaluation.

The goals of the course include advanced stability evaluation of avalanche terrain; snowpack development and change over time; factors that contribute to variability in avalanche hazard over distance and elevation; advanced understanding of avalanche trigger mechanisms; standard observation guidelines and recording formats to share information; introduction of a snow stability analysis and forecasting framework; improved avalanche rescue skills including multiple victims and deep burials.

This course requires 4 full days, and can be done consecutively or spread out.


Avalanche 1 Refresher - 1 day

Backcountry travelers are familiar with refreshing their CPR or their Wilderness First Aid training - why shouldn't that go for our avalanche training too? I recommend refreshing your Avalanche 1 knowledge every 2-3 years in order to stay current to changes in common practices and keep your skills sharp. We'll go out for a ski tour at Snoqualmie Pass that is suited to your downhill ski skills, stopping along the way to review the core Avalanche 1 skills in an applied setting.


Avalanche 2 Refresher - 2 days

Again, I advocate refreshing your Avalanche 2 skills every 2-3 years. This two day format includes field observations, documenting and sharing those observations, applying those observations to your ski tour plans, and refreshing avalanche rescue skills with multiple victims and deep burials.


I offer these trips as a co-owner of the Certified Guides Cooperative.

Some thoughts about Avalanche Courses:

A key skill in backcountry skiing is evaluating avalanche hazard and applying that evaluation to your tour planning, route finding, and ski descents. While you can take a course with a large group, I'm excited to be able to offer these courses as private trips at competitive costs. Get three of your friends to join you and get out there.

What these courses can't cover is basic backcountry skills. I'd encourage you - especially at the Basic Backcountry Skills or Avalanche 1 course - to add a day or two of backcountry skiing. Combine the Avalanche Rescue Skills and Basic Backcountry Skills, or the Intro to Ski Touring with the Avalanche 1 - giving you the chance to apply your new found Avalanche Studies knowledge to backcountry skiing with mentorship, instruction and guidance.

If I could wave a wand, I'd take folks out for a weekend of Avalanche Rescue Skills and Basic Backcountry Skills, then let them ski for a solid month (or even a season) before taking the Avalanche 1 and Intro to Touring. That combination of education, skills instruction, and then practice is what makes a solid backcountry ski partner and great days in the mountains.

The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education has become the leading national curriculum, meeting the standards set by the American Avalanche Association. I'm a professional member of both organizations, and a certified AIARE 1 & 2 Course Leader.

To learn more about my ski itineraries, click here: LINK.