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New Course: Avalanche 1 Refresher

aiare course in lake tahoe taught by professional mountain guides

Written by Sam Kieckhefer, Alpenglow Guide

When did you take your last avalanche course? Has it been a few years? Just like the snowpack, weather, and conditions are constantly changing, so is avalanche education. As a result, Alpenglow Expeditions has developed an Avalanche 1 Refresher course. Whether you’re fresh off your first level 1 course last season and are excited to practice new skills, or you’re a 20+ year veteran backcountry skier eager for an update, this refresher course is for you. Offered in both North Lake Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe, Alpenglow’s Avalanche 1 Refresher course is a 1-day field based course.

Alpenglow’s experienced staff of AIARE course instructors will use the blue book and framework developed by AIARE to facilitate a 1-day mentored ski tour with an emphasis on current level 1 avalanche course topics and travel techniques. In South Lake Tahoe, courses will take place in the east facing terrain of Elephants Back, Red Lake Peak, and Steven’s Peak. In North Lake Tahoe, courses will take place along the Highway 89 corridor from Alpine Meadows to Castle Peak, and on Mount Rose summit around Tamarack Peak, Houghton Peak, and Mount Rose proper.

Beginning prior to the start of the course, students will be encouraged to review the 9 avalanche problem types and be prepared to participate in a discussion about them. Students will also be expected to review the day’s weather and avalanche forecast, and come prepared with the necessary information to make a suitable plan for the day.

Throughout the day, students will participate in travel decisions that are appropriate for the day’s weather and conditions. In addition to evaluating the terrain, students will monitor conditions along the route. Using this information, the group will make decisions on their travel plan with direct supervision and advice of the instructor.

On top of planning and executing a tour using the AIARE framework, students will have the option of polishing their avalanche rescue skills through scenario based training and/or evaluating snowpack layers through the lens of a snow profile. While these options will be dependent on the course, instructors will consider student interest levels as well as conditions and terrain as they plan out the day.

While the Avalanche Refresher course will follow a standardized curriculum, each course will be different and the curriculum is designed to be flexible, accommodating a variety of student experiences/backgrounds and also focusing on topics relevant to current conditions. This curriculum was developed by Alpenglow Expeditions and uses the AIARE framework as a tool to fill gaps in knowledge that were consistently identified by both instructors and former students alike. The Avalanche refresher course can be used as an annual tune-up and pre level 2 refresh, or simply a once-in-a-while update. Regardless of how you choose to use this offering, you’re guaranteed to walk away with fine tuned skills and new tips and tricks.