37.9º N, 107.7º W

Our customized instruction maximizes student learning outcomes and time spent in the field, all as it relates to our continental snowpack.

decision-making in avalanche terrain

The AIARE 1 is a 3-day course that familiarizes students with the decision-making tools to help manage risk while traveling in avalanche terrain. The course provides a complete introduction to the avalanche phenomenon, avalanche terrain, decision-making, and rescue. Our AIARE instructors have extensive experience guiding, teaching, and skiing the backcountry; combining this experience and knowledge-base with fantastic access to San Juan ski terrain makes SJE courses stand-out. 

2020 dates

Jan. 3-5* / Jan. 10-12* / Jan. 24-26 / Jan. 31-Feb. 2* / Feb. 7-9* / Feb. 21-23


$450 – non-hut
$700 – *hut-based (held at the Addie S cabin)


Up to 6:1 


The AIARE Level 1 is delivered over the course of 3 days / 24 hours of instructional time, both classroom and field.               *for hut-based courses, students will arrive the night prior

DAY 1: Classroom-based (this lets us spend the next two full days in the field).

DAY 2: The AM is spent on companion rescue skills: becoming proficient with our transceivers, practicing proper probing techniques and strategic shovelling. In the PM we will talk snow science and take data from the snowpack, covering standardized and non-standardized bonding tests, pit digging, and how to extrapolate info from the snowpack.

DAY 3: We put it all to use! Final day is a full tour day, with students in front leading the group. Everyone will have the opportunity to be in a leadership role and practice using the Decision Making Framework. 


  • +/- 8 hours of classroom instruction; +/- 16 hours of field instruction
  • AIARE Manual + Field Book; AIARE student fees
  • AMGA and AIARE Trained Ski or Splitboard Guide
  • Avalanche safety equipment (beacon, shovel, probe)
  • Federal Land Use Surcharge (USFS/BLM)
  • 3 nights lodging, breakfast & dinners on but-based courses


  • Guide gratuity
  • Personal snacks for lunch / daytime
  • Backcountry touring equipment: skis or splitboard, boots, skins, etc. These are available to rent at an additional fee from our partner shop Backcountry Experience
  • Personal clothing / gear: check out our recommended gear lists for Avalanche Courses and Hut Trips


Skiers/riders should be in good physical condition, and be fairly confident / comfortable on their method of snow travel (backcountry touring skis or splitboard). We would love to ski with you before the course; consider booking a day of backcountry skiing/riding!

Course outcomes

  • Intro to the Avalanche Phenomenon: types and characteristics of avalanches; avalanche motion; size classification; the mountain snowpack (intro to metamorphism and layering).
  • Observations & Information Gathering: field observation techniques; bonding tests (rutschblock, compression test); avalanche danger factors / ‘Red Flags’; observation checklist; avalanche danger scale; trip planning & preparation; avalanche terrain recognition, assessment and selection; route finding and travel techniques; decision-making and Human Factors; companion rescue & equipment.


      Please familiarize yourself with our Booking & Cancellation Policies.


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