AIARE Courses Proven Effective at Increasing Avalanche Preparedness Practices
AIARE Course Effectiveness Case Study
The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, AIARE, the leading provider of recreational avalanche education in the United States, conducted a first-of-its-kind study with Eastern Oregon University indicating that students who participate in AIARE courses increase their frequency of practicing safe backcountry behaviors after their courses.
Colorado Adventure Guides is passionate about teaching avalanche safety, and to reach more backcountry travelers, we’re increasing our classes this year. To teach snow safety, we use the AIARE curriculum for many reasons, including that it provides a framework for a repeatable process that backcountry touring partners can use to assess adverse conditions and terrain.
But now we have another reason to choose AIARE-based courses: it’s been proven effective. AIARE hired the University to reach out to 1,700 students who’d take a course within the last 3 years to ask them if what they’d learned had made a difference in their backcountry practices. It had:
– 61% reported that they’d practiced rescue skills once or twice in the season after the class.
– They more often check if they have appropriate rescue gear including communication devices.
– They were more likely to review emergency plans with their comrades.
– They more often told people where they were going in case they did not return on time.
– They were more likely to practice safety protocols like choosing travel techniques to reduce avalanche exposure, noticing signs of unstable conditions, and were more likely to review with partners the day’s decisions after the outing.
These habits make it less likely that an individual and group will encounter avalanche conditions unexpectedly. Repetition, especially of rescue skills, makes it more likely that students will perform the necessary tasks faster in a critical situation. AIARE curriculum teaches how groups should handle human dynamics, as well. Good decisions are not just based on snow science! AIARE reports that this is the first study of its kind! Powder Magazine published a summary of the study, and you can read more about it here at AIARE’s site. Go here to learn more about our winter education program.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly booking team, who are ready to assist you with any inquiries and guarantee your spot in an AIARE course at Colorado Adventure Guides. You can choose to reserve your spot online or give us a call to confirm your booking.
CAG’s Backcountry Avalanche Safety Mentorship Program
Let Us Lead the Way
Colorado boasts some of the most intricate snow layers worldwide, attracting researchers globally. Navigating the backcountry, regardless of transportation means, necessitates a comprehensive grasp of avalanche dangers, along with the acumen to reduce such threats via suitable terrain evaluation and decision-making. If this sounds daunting, you may want to think about advancing through our Backcountry Mentorship Program. This tiered program is a fantastic opportunity whether you’re just beginning or planning to broaden your horizons. It’s an excellent way to experience the backcountry this winter and for many years into the future. Learn why Colorado Adventure Guides prefers the AIARE curriculum to teach avalanche safety education.
What is Backcountry Skiing or Backcountry Snowboarding in Avalanche Terrain?
Test your interest in traveling the backcountry in winter by attending one of our free Avy Savvy clinics. These are held at partner locations throughout the fall and early winter, and topics include Ski/Split 101 (an introduction to the gear and prep work needed,) Hut Trip 101 (how to use Colorado’s backcountry hut system correctly,) Avalanche 101 (an introduction to the basics,) Trip Planning 101 (how to choose a safer route,) State of the Snowpack (examines the area’s snowpack conditions and how they got that way,) and more each year.
What Will I Learn in CAG’s Various Avalanche Safety Classes?
Introduction to Backcountry Skiing or Splitboarding
This class is a perfect introduction to the skills and gear necessary to venture into the pristine Colorado backcountry confidently and explore. A stepping stone to help get you off the ski resort and away from the crowds. An excellent full-day adventure for those new to backcountry skiing or riding, it’s also a great way to gain experience prior to taking an AIARE Level 1 Avalanche course. This class also touches on basics of trip planning and hazard management in avalanche terrain. If you don’t already have the gear then check out our backcountry demo center with discounted ski and splitboards along with avalanche safety equipment rentals, and our guides will give you tips on how to use it all.
AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Safety Course
AIARE 1 is a 3-day course that introduces the AIARE Framework which helps participants work with a team to make better decisions in the backcountry and to manage avalanche risk. Get ready for some work: all of our Level 1 courses will include 24 hours of coursework at a minimum (e-learning and a live or virtual classroom day,) and two days on snow. We want to ensure that you get the education that you need, and we don’t cut corners in delivering the best safety course for your investment of time and energy! You’ll learn how to use an avalanche beacon, shovel and probe; what gear to bring with you; how to read an avalanche forecast; how to understand the formation of a snowpack and characteristics of avalanches; how to select a safer route; how to rescue a comrade, and more. Hut-based courses make the learning experience even more fun, and you get additional time to pick your instructors’ brains.
AIARE Companion Avalanche Rescue Course
The one-day, on-snow Rescue course gives participants the tools to execute a fast and effective avalanche rescue, and teaches you how to practice those rescue skills between trips, season after season. This course is intended to be retaken on a regular basis to update best practices in rescue techniques and gear, and to reinforce correct habits. New participants will learn companion rescue, and returning students will expand their skills and knowledge with advanced topics and realistic scenario practice. Advanced topics include multiple burials, advanced beacon functions, and evacuation considerations.
AIARE Level 2 – What is the Difference Between AIARE Level 1 and Level 2?
The 3-day AIARE Level 2 course builds on the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in the AIARE 1, and adds the evaluation of critical hazard assessment factors, group leadership, and decision-making skills. All students must have taken an AIARE Level 1, AIARE Avalanche Rescue, and have at least one season of practical experience after taking the AIARE 1 course. Our AIARE 2 courses are unique because we often run them in a hut or snow camping format. This is an amazing way to immerse yourself in the environment while also learning how to execute a winter overnight in the backcountry. Students will describe and discuss weather, snowpack, and avalanche processes; and identify how these relate to observations and travel within avalanche terrain in more complex situations on unfamiliar terrain. Participants on an AIARE Level 2 will receive direct coaching and mentoring from an Instructor.
How Do You Refresh Your Avalanche Safety Skills? – Take CAG’s Avalanche Refresher Course
If your AIARE Level 1 was taken years ago, you might want to refresh your skills. Or, if AIARE 1 seemed overwhelming and you need more practice of those skills, get out and make some turns in a Refresher course. Grab a few of your regular backcountry buddies and book a day with a guide/instructor for private learning and touring. The day can be tailored to the skills you want to spend the most time on, from trip planning to route selection, field observations to snowpack analysis, or simply just learning how to execute a backcountry ski tour from beginning to end while finding the best conditions.
Feel free to contact our accommodating booking staff who are on standby to help you with any questions and ensure your place in an AIARE course at Colorado Adventure Guides. You have the option of either securing your slot online or phoning us now to confirm your reservation.
Industry Standard AIARE Avalanche Education Courses in Colorado
Did you know that “AIARE” is not synonymous with all avalanche education programs? AIARE is the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education, but the governing body of avalanche education in the U.S is the American Avalanche Association, aka A3. A3 has approved the AIARE curriculum for avalanche safety education.
AIARE is an educator, but they focus on educating and creating certified and qualified instructors, and course curriculum and materials for companies like Colorado Adventure Guides which in turn deliver AIARE Level 1 and other avalanche education in Colorado. We teach and supplement AIARE-based avalanche safety courses because we believe that it is the best, most versatile, and most useful system available in the US.
What Makes the AIARE Curriculum More Useful?
All avalanche courses teach snow science, but Colorado Adventure Guides’ and AIARE’s course and certification system goes beyond weather and physics to give students a Framework they can use with backcountry teammates to make good decisions on snow while subject to group dynamics when the stakes are high. As the AIARE manual says, “Almost every avalanche accident involves a poor decision made by a human. Pre-conditioned biases, an individual’s tendencies, habits, and behavior patterns are described as human factors, or heuristics.”
CAG’s AIARE coursework will give you a framework and tools that can help you control for heuristic risk factors, too. Further, CAG’s instructors know that avalanche education evolves and keeping backcountry skills sharp is a lifelong journey.
Why Does CAG Think the AIARE Avalanche Safety Program is the Outstanding Choice?
1: The AIARE curriculum gives us the flexibility to give our students the benefit of the most hours of education off and on snow
At Colorado Adventure Guides, we believe that the amount of time our students spend honing their skills and knowledge directly affects their learning and safety. Our team is a huge proponent of maximizing the learning experience for our students, and we go well above and beyond the standard 24-hour curriculum.
All of our courses start with an e-learning component which takes students anywhere from 3-6 hours to complete. The flexible AIARE curriculum allows us to deliver to our students this hugely beneficial, self-paced, e-learning environment, and also the essential, face-to-face, full-day classroom component with our certified, knowledgeable, and passionate instructors. Thus, in all of our AIARE Level 1 and AIARE Level 2 courses students engage, soak in knowledge from our instructors, and get hands-on experience with their classmates in rounding out the lessons introduced by e-learning.
Colorado Adventure Guides really cares about our students’ safety, and we understand that people have different learning styles. We believe that the combination of the AIARE curriculum delivered with an advance e-learning opportunity, face-to-face classroom time, and two solid days on snow, provides the best learning outcomes for everybody who takes a class with us.
2: Time on Snow
Strange as it sounds, some curriculums don’t require you to learn about snow while on snow. At Colorado Adventure Guides, we strongly believe that the field component is essential to learning about Colorado’s snowpack. Also, the on-snow practice with new friends is the best way to practice new decision-making skills in a real-world setting. We begin our three day courses with a classroom or virtual classroom day, but days 2 and 3 are conducted in the field with your cohorts.
3: CAG’s instructors and course leaders are certified by AIARE
AIARE guide certification ensures they are committed and experienced avalanche professionals. After completing various courses and time in the field, they then attend the Instructor Training Course or the Course Leader Course to hone their skills as educators.
After this rigorous preparation then they must apply to be recognized by AIARE. CAG is honored to have some of Colorado’s most-experienced, certified men and women leaders teaching our courses.
4: The AIARE curriculum allows Colorado Adventure Guides the flexibility to offer fun and unusual course options.
Consider gathering your backcountry crew and heading off with your AIARE-certified instructor to learn about avalanche safety at a backcountry hut! You can take AIARE Level 2 while camping out. These settings allow you the most time to pick your instructors’ brains about everything snow-related.
5: The AIARE framework is a repeatable process
CAG instructors believe AIARE’s repeatable curriculum best organizes information and allows backcountry travelers to make informed decisions. Our courses will increase your confidence in your skills by providing tools you can use over and over, rather than just facts about snow and avalanches.
6: AIARE’s curriculum is continually updated and evolving
As researchers and industry experts learn more about snow science, the human brain, and educational best practices the AIARE guidelines continue to evolve.
7: Colorado Adventure Guides’ courses grow with you.
Colorado Adventure Guides teaches a broad range of avalanche courses from our own free clinics, Introduction to Backcountry Ski or Splitboard classes, and Avalanche Refresher courses to AIARE-certified Level 1, Rescue, and AIARE Level 2 courses. ‘
While we’ve blogged before about why you would want to take an avalanche course at all, you may not be sure what winter backcountry travel entails, or how to use the specialized equipment. Before you buy equipment or invest in a 3-day AIARE Level 1 class, we recommend that you make sure you like the challenges of backcountry winter travel. Take a couple of our free, hour-and-a-half clinics held around the Front Range and mountain counties. Then, get discounted rentals of top-of-the-line backcountry gear from our Backcountry Demo Center, and take CAG’s one-day Introduction to Backcountry Skiing and Splitboarding course first to make sure you will enjoy your backcountry experience. ‘
Because avalanche education skills are perishable, AIARE recommends taking the AIARE Avalanche Rescue course about every other year with your backcountry touring partners. Quick rescues happen only if you and your companions practice various scenarios often. We hope you never need to rescue anyone buried, but if you do, you and your friends will have learned and practiced using the AIARE framework with your companions and Colorado Adventure Guide instructors to speed the response. Another option for graduates of earlier AIARE courses is to take CAG’s Avalanche Refresher Course which we designed to refresh topics covered in an AIARE Level 1, AIARE Level 2, or AIARE Avalanche Rescue course.
Book an AIARE course with Colorado Adventure Guides today!
You can reach out to our helpful reservation team who are ready and waiting to assist you with any inquiries and secure your spot for an AIARE course at Colorado Adventure Guides. Choose between booking online or giving us a call today to guarantee your reservation.
Why Should I Take an AIARE Course with Colorado Adventure Guides?
The growth of backcountry skiing and riding in recent years has been incredible. With the fantastic images that we see in ski movies and a backlash against the lines and crowds of resorts, more people than ever are starting to explore beyond the ski area. With that growth comes the risks that pertains to backcountry travel, and the need for quality education from local guides who live and work in the backcountry every day, and a highly reputable company with vast experience in the area.
With priority access in the Summit County area, and a wide span of teaching areas from Vail Pass to Loveland Pass and beyond, Colorado Adventure Guides builds its courses based around the best conditions over a wide variety of terrain. This in return helps to provide more comprehensive education for our students. There are numerous reasons to take an AIARE Avalanche Course with Colorado Adventure Guides, and here are the reasons that set us apart from the pack and make CAG a top leader within Colorado’s backcountry education scene.
Trusted AIARE Avalanche Instructors in Colorado
We are about education not cost
Backcountry and Avalanche Education is an investment into a lifetime of new adventures and possibilities, and we recognize that there is a cost-factor involved, which is why we have a series of discounts for you to take advantage of. The value you are getting out of the course is instruction from highly passionate, experienced, and qualified instructors, sharing combined decades of backcountry experience and helping to gain the knowledge and confidence to take on your own backcountry adventures. In calculating a price that is fair to our students, we also offer several perks and discounts for our students to take advantage of. Groups, returning clients, locals of Summit, Eagle, and Park Counties, students who sign up for more than one course, and students who are continuing their education post Avalanche Level 1, all receive generous increasing discounts and perks for going through Colorado Adventure Guides.
We can provide gear rentals from top brands for use during the courses from our in house Backcountry Demo Center. When taking an avalanche course, many are not ready to make the investment into backcountry equipment or are not sure which equipment they should get. Colorado Adventure Guides is a proud partner of Ortovox Avalanche Equipment, DPS Skis, and Weston Splitboards, where we have a full demo center with this top of the line gear available during your course. So at the start of your backcountry life, you are supported with some of the best brand names in the industry. All students who take our Level 1, Avalanche Rescue, or Level 2 Courses are eligible for a FREE rental of an Ortovox avalanche safety package (Beacon, Shovel, and Probe) at no additional cost. Students also have discounted access to our demo center with DPS Skis and splitboards from Weston Backcountry, giving them access to the latest backcountry models. At the end of the course, students also are eligible for exclusive discounts on gear through our partners.
An inviting and diverse classroom
The backcountry community has an image problem that makes it look predominantly white and male and in recognizing this fact, we aim to create an environment that is diverse and welcoming to all genders and ethnicities. Our courses are led through a diverse range of instructors, including many women and people of color, and we aim to be what we want to see in our industry. Our goal is to open the backcountry to anybody and make it inclusive and welcoming in order to buck the image and trend that we are currently seeing.
Weekend and Weekday Courses Available
Having courses that are close to home and in a variety of timeframes is important, and we are varying our course schedules to make way for more weekday, weekend, hybrid courses, and more locations across the State. For the 2022/2023 season we are offering our in-person classrooms as well as virtual classrooms (the field days remain outside). The virtual classroom allows students to take Day 1 from the comfort of their own home and takes a potential day of lodging out of the mix.
We also run hut-based courses out of 4 different huts and the price includes the hut and some of the food. We are also partnering with Winter Park Resort, for a lift-assisted AIARE Level 1 that’s closer to the Front Range. We’re building a course schedule that’s more friendly and accommodating to different schedules and locations.
We have the longevity and experience to give you a comprehensive experience
Colorado Adventure Guides has been operating in the Summit County Area since 1996 and has intimate knowledge of our snowpack, and terrain giving you firsthand beta on some of the most beloved mountains in Colorado. We’ll learn about our unique geography and climate, helping you not only understand our local snowpack but also some of our favorite secret spots.
When you take a course with Colorado Adventure Guides, you’re investing in a lifetime of adventure. While there are many AIARE Course Providers out there, we are the experts with the Summit County knowledge, and we strive on building a course and classroom that is accommodating for every person and schedule. We would love to have you in our courses this year.
Book an AIARE course with Colorado Adventure Guides today!
Our friendly reservation team is standing by to answer any questions and book your AIARE course with Colorado Adventure Guides. Book directly online or call today to reserve your spot.