AIARE avy 1 Hut course

live and breath avy education in our hut based avy 1 course.


AIARE Avy 1 hut course overview

The AIARE Avy 1 Hut Course is designed to give you a full introduction to backcountry travel. Based out of the Addie S hut on Red Mountain Pass, you will  spend day and night with your peers and instructors learning the foundation of avalanche education. In a hut format you spend more time skiing, more time learning from and observing your instructors, and more time in the mountains—all with lodging and food included. When you take your level one with San Juan Expeditions you will get hands-on experience analyzing the avalanche hazard and using your observations to make decisions in the field. We are committed to providing both tools for understanding the avalanche problem and the terrain management skills you can only get from observing an experienced guide.

 Our course leaders are both AIARE certified instructors and AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) trained guides. So when you take one of our courses you know you will be under the mentorship of an experienced and qualified guide, not just an instructor.

This means you will not only learn about avalanche theory but you will apply what you have learned by going skiing/riding under the mentorship of an experienced guide and by making real decisions.

Why take a San Juan Expedition’s avalanche course?

1. We are based in Silverton and Durango, Colorado – The premier location to learn about avalanche education in the United States with a history of avalanche research.

2. Our AIARE Avalanche Instructors are also trained by the AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association). We are not just avalanche instructors but also guides with experience in a variety of terrain and snowpacks all around the world.

3. By taking our AIARE Level 1 course you get exclusive access to San Juan Expeditions Mentorship Days and Alumni groups. We are committed to helping you continue your education after your AIARE course is finished and want to connect you with other competent partners within our community.

who we are

We stand behind and hand-select everyone of our guides/instructors. All of our guides are educators first and experienced mountain athletes second. This year we have two guides that have been listed for “Piolet D’or” awards and have previously received grants for cutting edge expeditions around the world. Our team is sponsored by “The North Face” and contribute to the new product lines of technical outerwear. We have a reputation for safety in the rugged and dynamic environment of the San Juan Mountains and we take safety very seriously. We are respected in the local Durango/Silverton, community and by our happy loyal clients (see our Google reviews).


spi course beginner difficulty


Duration Scale 3 days v2



Course Itinerary

Day 1
  • First, we met at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad station to board the iron horse that will deposit us at the bottom of the Animas valley and reduce our approach considerably. 
  • After we get off the train and gather our packs at the Needleton train station, we locate the trail and begin our trek up No Name basin.  
  • By late afternoon we will arrive at Jagged Pass and get our first truly unobstructed view of our objective.
  • We will from here make camp in the No Name creek drainage and take a well-deserved break, eat some food, and prepare for an early start the following day to summit Jagged Mountain. 
  • Before calling it a night, we encourage you to take some time and soak in the star-studded skies that are void of any form of light pollution. You might even see a shooting star. 
Day 2
  • We will wake up very early to have some breakfast and set out to begin hiking up to the base of the peak. The exact time will be determined by your guide the day prior.
  • At a point, your guide will transition you to a roped team and the technical climbing section will begin. Progressively getting steeper the further up the ridge you get.
  • After some route-finding and technical sections, we will reach the summit bloc no later than noon. If we have time we will take some time to enjoy the summit, snap some photos before we begin our descent.
  • Descending the same route we came up we will arrive back at camp and enjoy the rest of the afternoon with some free time before turning in for our second night in the basin.
Day 3
  • We wake up at a more reasonable hour and have some breakfast before packing up camp and heading back down the primitive trail through No Name basin.
  • Arriving at the Needleton train station, we wait for our train to stop and pick us up to take us out of the wilderness in style. Most often enjoying a hard-earned cold beer on the way out.
  • Upon arriving in Durango, your guide will gather all company gear debrief you on your trip, and let you go to tell all your friends about the unforgettable experience you just had.

Where You Will Stay

Silverton Lodging

Silverton provides an ideal base camp for our AIARE Avy 1 Hut Course and the Addie S cabin puts us on the door step of our classroom for duration of the class. Perched just off the summit of Red Mountain Pass, the Addie S cabin boasts incredible views, unparalleled access to amazing skiing, and a cozy environment to hit the books and learn the fundamentals of avy education. With next to no light pollution, stepping out on the deck and gazing up reveals a sky littered with stars. Surrounded by nature you can’t help but begin to pick up on the subtle signs we will teach out to observe when considering terrain selection during the course. There truly is no better way to learn avy education than from a mountain hut.  

where we will meet

The first morning of the AIARE Avy 1 Course we will have a meeting at San Juan Expeditions HQ.  We will go over the itinerary for the next three days, you will meet your guides, we will be sure all liability waivers have been completed and then we will begin the classroom portion of the AIARE Avy 1 Course. During this meeting we will adhere to our COVID-19 policy to ensure all our participants safety is prioritized. After the first day of the course, meeting locations may vary depending on the tour plans for the following days. All this information will be shared with you by your guides and instructors.

SJE HQ Asset

What is Included in the cost?

included in trip cost icon

– Three days with an AMGA certified & trained guide

– Federal land usage surcharge (USFS/BLM)

– Avalanche rescue equipment (beacon, shovel, and probe)

– AIARE Field Notebook

– Lodging at the Addie S hut

– Breakfast & dinner

Not Included Icon

– Guide gratuity

– Snow travel equipment (splitboard or AT skis)

– Personal clothing/gear

* If you need to rent equipment locally visit our partners at Cripple Creek Backcountry and pick up your gear at our shop in Silverton.

Course Gallery

(Click for full size image)


Anyone participating in our programs must fill out a waiver beforehand. If you are under 18, please have your parent/guardian complete.


Please familiarize yourself with our Booking & Cancellation Policies.


Skiers/riders should be in good physical condition, and confident/comfortable on their method of snow travel (backcountry touring skis or splitboard).