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Winter Peak Ascents in Colorado Backcountry Blog

Colorado Adventure Guides
AIARE Avalanche Safety Course

Not All Avalanche Education Courses Are Equal

Industry Standard AIARE Avalanche Education Courses in Colorado

Avalanche Courses

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.

Avalanche Education Classes

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.

Avalanche Courses

Learning To Dig A Snow Pit in AIARE 1

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.

AIARE Level 1 - Avalanche Education Course

AIARE 1 Hut Based

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.

AIARE Level 1 - Avalanche Education Course

AIARE 2 Avalanche Education

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.

From our Intro to Backcountry Skiing/Splitboarding, to AIARE Avalanche Level 1, AIARE Companion Rescue, and AIARE Level 2 courses, to our more advanced and technical ski/splitboard mountaineering courses, there’s a class designed for your experience level. You’ll likely meet new friends with the same interests, too!

Avalanche Courses

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.

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