Project Description

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course

Planning on traveling in the backcountry? If you want to make the right decisions, please take this course! It is an introductory course on avalanche fundamentals with an emphasis on safety. Learn proper preparations, route selection and observations in the field. Our avalanche staff have been hand picked for their depth of experience. They are all certified AIARE instructors and trained by the AMGA as ski guides with intimate knowledge of the San Juan’s.

$430 per person

December 22-24, 2018 FULL
December 29-31, 2018 FULL
January 11-13, 2019 (Closed)
January 19-21, 2019 (Closed)
February 16-18, 2019 FULL
March 8-10, 2019 (Closed)


Program Overview

Our AIARE Level 1 avalanche course curriculum was ranked “One of the Top Avalanche Courses in America for Adventure Seekers” by Curbed Ski Magazine. We built this award winning program with input from AIARE Instructor Team Members, AMGA Ski Guides, avalanche forecasters and feedback from avalanche course students. Every day of our AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course includes field sessions on Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. This gives you an opportunity to get hands-on practice in the field and spend time out actually skiing!


Day 1: The group will meet at the Peak Mountain Guides office at 8:00 am for a morning session in the classroom. We begin with introductions and an overview of the course. The remaining morning is spent introducing avalanche types and characteristics, avalanche terrain, metamorphism and layering in the mountain snowpack, and companion rescue. These classroom presentations may include case studies, powerpoint slideshows, and videos to keep everyone engaged and learning. After a one-hour break for lunch, we will drive to Red Mountain Pass for an afternoon field session on companion rescue. We will finish the day by 6:00 pm.

Day 2: We will meet at 8:00 am at the Peak Mountain Guides office for another morning session in the classroom. The day’s topics include teamwork, human factors and decision making; field observations including snowpack tests; trip planning and preparation; and a look into your instructor’s backpack to see what he/she carries during a day of backcountry touring. After a one-hour break for lunch we will drive to Red Mountain Pass for a ski tour to make snowpack observations, practice terrain selection, and learn snowpack tests. We will finish the day by 6:00 pm.

Day 3: We will meet at 8:00 am at the Peak Mountain Guides office to review the daily avalanche bulletin and to create a trip plan for the day. Using our observations from the previous day and information from the avalanche bulletin, we will be able to make informed terrain choices for our big tour. During this final day the emphasis will be on application of skills and knowledge, and students will have the opportunity to make terrain choices, do the routefinding for the group, and employ travel techniques — all with valuable coaching and feedback from the instructor. The course will close with a presentation of graduation certificates and will conclude by 6:00 pm.

Program Details

Group Size

The maximum ratio is 6:1. The group size will not exceed 12 students and 2 instructors.

Time and Place

The course will be held at the Peak Mountain Guides office in Ouray, CO and in the backcountry near Red Mountain Pass. The Peak Mountain Guides office is located on 7th Avenue, just downhill from Ouray Hardware & Mercantile. The address is 280 7th Avenue Ouray, CO 81427. Free parking is available on the streets around the office.

Getting to Ouray

Details on lodging/shuttles to Ouray.

Equipment List

It is possible to rent touring equipment from our ski shop: Rental Rates