AIARE 1 Avalanche Course

3 Days in California, Lake Tahoe / (Skill level: Introductory)

Price per person

$499.00 Use promo code "AVY19" to get $499 pre-season rate
  • Next Available: Nov 29, 2019 - Dec 01, 2019
  • Upcoming: Dec 06, 2019 - Dec 08, 2019
  • Dec 13, 2019 - Dec 15, 2019
  • Dec 16, 2019 - Dec 18, 2019
  • Dec 27, 2019 - Dec 29, 2019
  • Jan 03, 2020 - Jan 05, 2020
  • Jan 06, 2020 - Jan 08, 2020
  • Jan 18, 2020 - Jan 20, 2020
  • Jan 24, 2020 - Jan 26, 2020
  • Jan 31, 2020 - Feb 02, 2020
  • Feb 07, 2020 - Feb 09, 2020
  • Feb 15, 2020 - Feb 17, 2020
  • Feb 24, 2020 - Feb 26, 2020
  • Feb 28, 2020 - Mar 01, 2020
  • Mar 06, 2020 - Mar 08, 2020
  • Mar 13, 2020 - Mar 15, 2020
  • Mar 16, 2020 - Mar 18, 2020
  • Mar 27, 2020 - Mar 29, 2020
  • Apr 10, 2020 - Apr 12, 2020

About this trip

This is a comprehensive, entry-level avalanche course designed for those with basic ski/snowboard touring experience. There are no other prerequisites, although, if you have never backcountry skied before, you may find it helpful to join an Intro to Backcountry day first. This is a great course to take before heading out into the backcountry.

Overview

  • skill level

    Introductory

  • Duration

    3 Days

Students can expect to develop a good foundation on how to prepare for and carry out a backcountry trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn avalanche rescue techniques.

This is a comprehensive, entry-level avalanche course designed for those with basic ski/snowboard touring experience. There are no other prerequisites. The price includes all necessary classroom supplies and the AIARE field book. These items are often not included in the course price, but we don’t like any hidden costs.

Location:

Operating in partnership with the Tahoe National Forest and the Truckee Donner Land Trust, our outdoor classroom contains some of the best terrain in the region to begin your avalanche education. Classroom sessions take place at our headquarters in the beautiful Olympic Valley, California.

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the AIARE 1 course the student should be able to:

  • Plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain.
  • Recognize avalanche terrain.
  • Describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain.
  • Learn and apply effective companion rescue.
  • Instructional sessions (24 hours including both class and field instruction) :

1. Introduction to the Avalanche Phenomena

  • Types and characteristics of avalanches
  • Avalanche motion
  • Size classification
  • The mountain snowpack: an introduction to metamorphism and layering

2. Observations and Information Gathering

  • Field observation techniques
  • Snowpack tests: rutschblock, compression test, extended column test
  • Avalanche danger factors or “Red Flags”
  • Observation checklist
  • Avalanche danger scale

3. Trip Planning and Preparation

  • Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment, and selection
  • Route finding and travel techniques
  • Decision making and Human Factors

4. Companion Rescue and Equipment

Want more info? Check out this interview with AIARE instructor Ben Weaver.

Alpenglow Expeditions operates under a special use permit from the Tahoe, Inyo and Eldorado National Forests. This institution is an equal opportunity provider. 

Preparation

  • Fitness

    Excellent physical fitness is required. Skiers must be able to hike for many hours at a time while carrying a pack.

  • Technical Experience

    Skiers must be competent resort skiers able to link turns in a variety of terrain and snow conditions.

    • Day 1 — Lecture & Skills

      Lecture in the morning followed by hands on practice in the afternoon.

    • Day 2 — Lecture & Skills

      Lecture in the morning followed by observation tour in the afternoon.

    • Day 3 — Skills day in the field

      Today the course wraps up with a full day in the field practicing all the concepts learned over the previous 2 days.

      • Equipment

      • Backcountry Access Stealth Probe 240

        Simple, lightweight probe, 240-300cm. Must have an auto-locking feature.

        Buy on Backcountry.com
      • Pieps Avalanche Beacon

        A digital transceiver that is simple to use or that you are extremely comfortable using.

        Buy on Backcountry.com
      • Salomon ski/ climbing helmet

        This helmet is very light, comfortable, and is certified for both skiing and climbing.

        Buy on Backcountry.com
      • Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 32 ski pack

        A ski-specific backpack is preferred to a regular pack, due to the external pocket for avalanche rescue gear. 20-35 liters.

        Buy on Blackdiamondequipment.com
      • Backcountry skis, bindings and skins

        These skis should be relatively lightweight, 90-110mm underfoot, and have a shape that works well in  a variety of snow conditions. "Tech" style bindings strongly recommended. Make sure your skins are trimmed to your ski.

        Read more
      • Black Diamond Transfer 3 shovel

        Simple, metal bladed avalanche shovel. Extendable handle recommended.

        Buy on Backcountry.com
    • What is your cancellation policy?

      1. We reserve the right to cancel any trip at any time. Reasons for cancellation might include (but are not limited to) natural disasters or inadequate enrollment. If we cancel a trip prior to its start for low enrollment, we fully refund your payments. If we cancel your trip prior to its start due to natural disasters or other reasons of that nature, we will refund all but non-recoverable costs. Changes to a trip itinerary made by our guides for any reason do not constitute a cancellation, and no refunds will be made in this case.

      2. If you cancel your trip more than 30 days prior to departure, Alpenglow Expeditions will refund your payment minus a 25% cancelation fee, or the option to rebook to another available date with 100% credit. Cancellations between 10 and 30 days prior to the course start, you may reschedule with a 25% rebooking fee. Inside of 10 days, there are no rebookings or refunds. In light of this, Alpenglow Expeditions highly recommends purchasing trip insurance to protect yourself in the event that you are unable to attend.

      3. On any trip, our guides reserve the right to remove any person, for any reason. These reasons generally stem from a person jeopardizing the safety of themselves or another team member. This includes a person who is not physically able to climb or ski/ride at the level necessary for the chosen objective. In all these cases, there are no refunds whatsoever, and the client will be responsible for any additional costs incurred in leaving the trip.

      4. Travel in the mountains can be difficult at times. Winter weather can have a significant impact on travel times, with temporary road closures, chain control,  traffic, and slow driving conditions, poor visibility, and other issues all possibly contributing to delays. Additionally, there is a certain amount of inherent risk involved with winter driving,  we recommend that all participants take the time to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances or delays. As these issues are a normal part of mountain travel, Alpenglow will not cancel courses due to challenging travel conditions.

    • Would you consider organizing a custom AIARE 1 Avalanche course for me and my group?

      Absolutely. We love putting together custom courses. Call or email us to begin planning your custom AIARE 1 Avalanche course today.

    • Do I have enough experience for this course?

      The AIARE 1 is a stand alone, introductory avalanche course. No prior education is required. You must be an intermediate skier or rider to join us in the backcountry, however. This is for the safety and enjoyment of everyone, and will allow students to focus on the material and techniques being presented, and not on their own skiing or riding.

    • I always ski with experienced friends. Should I still take this course?

      We believe that each individual makes up the team, not its strongest members. With that in mind, it is imperative that every member of a touring party has basic avalanche training. The level 1 course is very broad in scope- from avalanche rescue training to fundamentals of avalanche problems, it covers a lot of very useful material.

    • Is lunch included on the trip?

      Lunch is not included on the trip. We recommend packing a sack lunch and plenty of water.

    • What gear should I bring?

      In general, your gear for the day will be very similar to a day of skiing in the resort, but here are a few key pieces that are unique to the backcountry and crucial for the day –

      A hat and pair of sunglasses (These come in handy on the hike up)

      Sunscreen

      Water and snacks (Our guides recommend between 1-2L of water depending on your intake)

      Lighter, more breathable layer options than a typical resort layering system. An additional light pair of gloves is preferred for uphill travel

      Ski poles with powder baskets, or a pair of collapsable poles for splitboarding. (We have these available at no extra charge if you need them)

      A backpack, and any avalanche rescue gear you may own. (Our guides recommend packs around 20-30L)

      **Please give us a call if you have any questions about what to bring, or if your gear will be appropriate for the day.

    • I need to rent gear, what information should I provide in advance?

      We have an excellent selection of backcountry ski gear available to rent. We offer top of the line equipment from Blizzard Skis, Technica Boots, Jones Snowboards, and Black Diamond. Many of our guides use the same gear available in our demo fleet. If you have any gear or sizing questions, we would be more than happy to get you situated to ensure you get the most out of your day in the mountains.

      A/T Skis

      We can offer touring specific skis from Blizzard, a personal favorite for our mountain guides. We have skis available for both females and males. We have sizes available in 164cm,  171cm, 178cm, and 185cm.

      Splitboards

      We have Jones Splitboards available to rent in sizes 145cm, 152cm, 160cm, 161cm, 162cm, and 164cm) Please let us know your stance/binding angle preferences if you are planning to rent a splitboard setup.

      A/T Ski Boots

      Alpine touring ski boots from Technica Boots are available to rent. Sizes range from 23.5 to 29.5 in both genders.

    • I don’t have any avalanche gear- can I still sign up?

      Avalanche gear is mandatory for all peoples traveling in alpine terrain. If you do not already own gear, we offer a beacon, shovel, probe setup available to rent for $25/day.

    • Is it safe?

      While no outdoor adventure can be completely free of risk without losing the essence of the activity, hiring a professional guide is a fantastic way to manage and mitigate this risk. Activities like skiing and climbing have what we call “inherent risk”, which can be defined as a risk that cannot be completely mitigated by a professional. That is part of playing in the mountains, we encourage you to reach out to the office if you would like to discuss this in more detail.

Ben Mitchell

Ben has been in love with the mountains from a young age. He began hiking and skiing with his family and quickly decided he never wanted to stop. After finishing university in Portland, OR Ben moved back to Washington State and began guiding on Mt. Rainier and around the Cascades. For the next many years he followed the seasons, skiing, climbing and pursuing the art of human flight through out the world. He has made expeditions into both polar circles, skied first descents in Afghanistan and climbed throughout the Americas and Europe. When not looking forward to the next adventure he thoroughly enjoys roasting coffee, reading and taking his dog out for walks.

Ben is a fully certified IFMGA/AMGA mountain guide, Certified Level III Avalanche Professional, and Wilderness First Responder.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Logan Talbott

director of operations / chief guide

Logan has been guiding professionally for over a decade in the disciplines of Rock, Alpine and Ski Mountaineering. When not out guiding, Logan keeps things running smoothly as the director of operations at Alpenglow Expeditions. From one day ascents of El Capitan to big Alpine climbs in the Himalaya, from ski descents on Denali to backyard ski tours in Lake Tahoe, he can’t help but smile when out running around the hills. Logan is a fully certified AMGA/IFMGA mountain guide, an Avalanche course leader with AIARE, as well as a wilderness EMT. In addition to guiding, Logan has extensive experience in mountain rescue, having worked for rescue teams in both Yosemite and Denali National Parks, and volunteering locally for Tahoe Nordic SAR. When not out in the hills, he lives in Truckee, CA with his lovely wife Lynette and daughter Maggie.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA - American Mountain Guide
  • IVBV IFMGA UIAGM - Mountain Guide

Zeb Blais

From bushwhacking miles of Manzanita in ski boots to traversing huge glaciers in exotic ranges, adventure draws Zeb in. Originally from Vermont, Zeb has been hooked on big mountains since his first ski tour in Jackson Hole and has pursued skiing, climbing and exploring ever since. Zeb has climbed and guided in the Himalaya, Alaska, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Asia among others and he’s working hard to keep that list growing. Working as a mountain guide allows Zeb to share his passion for human powered movement in the mountains and to pass along what he’s learned along the way.

Zeb has successfully guided Mt Everest [29,029′], Mt Cho Oyu [26,906′] including a ski descent from the summit, Lobuche East [20,075′],  and four expeditions on Denali [20,320’], including a ski descent from the summit. He has completed 64 summits of Mount Rainier [14,410’]. Additional credentials include 12 summits of Mount Shasta [14,179’]; 5 summits of Mount Shuksan [9,100’]; 3 summits via Mount Baker [10,678’], including one ski descent from the summit, and two ski descents via the North Ridge; 2 summits of Aconcagua [22,841’]; 1 summit of Cotopaxi and 1 summit of Cayabme; 2 summits of Ixtacihuatl in Mexico; 3 summits of Orizaba in Mexico, including a ski descent from the summit; and numerous rock, alpine and ski summits from the Cascades, Sierra Nevada, Coast ranges and Rockies.

Zeb is an AMGA certified ski guide.

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

Tim Dobbins

With notable first descents in the Alps, Tim Dobbins represents Alpenglow’s cutting edge guiding philosophy providing only the best guides for every trip and expedition.

Growing up in Oregon, Tim started out skiing at the young age of 4 years old. Tim grew up ski racing for 9 years before he moved on to backcountry skiing in Aspen, Colorado. He spent 4 years working as ski patrol at Snowmass Ski Resort.

Tim moved to Chamonix in the mid-’90s where he spent 6 seasons skiing and climbing while studying French. Tim says that Chamonix is where he really started learning how to ski tour, rock climb, ice climb and eventually began skiing the steepest lines he could find.

Examples of those steep lines were the North East face of Les Courtes, Couloir Barbey from Aiguille D’Argentiere, Couloir Couturier from L’Aiguille Verte, Couloir du Diable on Mont Blanc du Tacul, East face of the Matterhorn and many, many others.

Tim has recently spent the last 9 years guiding and instructing in rock, ice, alpine, and skiing as well as becoming an IFMGA aspirant mountain guide, an AMGA certified ski guide and AIARE course leader. He lives on Donner Lake in Truckee with his wife Gisele, sweet daughter Manue and newborn Matisse. 

Guide Certifications
  • AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor
  • AMGA Certified Ski Guide

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    AIARE 1 Avalanche Course