Avalanche: Get the Training

Avalanche Education

The best way to stay safe in the backcountry is through education. Understanding terrain, weather, snowpack and how to avoid avalanches is your ticket to a long life of backcountry enjoyment. Pursue avalanche education as vigorously as you pursue your passion for the backcountry.

There are many opportunities to advance avalanche education through local avalanche centers, and courses standardized through the American Avalanche Association (AAA). The AAA sets the guidelines and framework for providers, and organizations such as American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE), and American Avalanche Institute (AAI) provide the curriculum according to the AAA standards. The National Avalanche Center also has abundant resources.

National Avalanche Center

The National Avalanche Center has many educational resources including articles, scenarios, and videos. fsavalanche.org

AIARE There are three levels in the AIARE program:


  • The AIARE 1 course is an introduction and review of the avalanche phenomena, travel techniques, decision making strategies, and avalanche rescue.
  • The AIARE 2 course provides technical and scientific information that improves participants’ understanding of how and why avalanches occur, covers the factors that indicate and affect snow stability, and introduces the snow stability analysis and forecasting process.
  • The AIARE 3 course incorporates snow stability analysis and forecasting, avalanche hazard analysis and forecasting, and activity/operational planning in a high level decision making framework.

A full list of AIARE course providers more…     avtraining.org

aaaThe American Avalanche Association (AAA) is comprised of a collective group of dedicated professionals engaged in the study, forecasting, control and mitigation of snow avalanches. Association membership includes qualified researchers, professional avalanche forecasters, educators, guides, snow safety officers, snow rangers and qualified ski patrollers, technicians and specialists.   americanavalancheassociation.org

The AAA publishes the Avalanche Review for all levels of membership.The Avalanche Review
The AAA also publishes the Snow, Weather and Avalanches: Observation Guidelines for Avalanche Programs in the United States (S.W.A.G.). It’s pretty much the resource for AIARE Level 2 and beyond.Snow, Weather, and Avalanches: Observational Guidelines for Avalanche Programs in the United States

Mountaineering safety

Mountaineering Traveling in more extreme mountain environments means you will need to acquire the necessary skills. In Colorado, the Colorado Mountain Club (CMC)  has courses in Basic Mountaineering Skills (BMS) and Advanced Mountaineering Skills (AMS). You can also take courses through Colorado Mountain School (CMS) that touch on all the basic skills. Traveling in alpine environments rope and climbing fundamentals, proper use of an ice axe such as self arrest techniques, and so on. These basics will make your outings more enjoyable, and you more successful as a backcountry enthusiast.


NOLS If you frequent the backcountry you should consider taking a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) and/or Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course certified through National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS).   nols.edu

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