Hut-Based Level 2: Analyzing Snow Stability and Avalanche Hazard

The AIARE Level II course is a 4-day program that provides backcountry leaders and aspiring snow professionals  the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills.  The Level II builds from the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in the level one and adds to it the evaluation of factors critical to stability evaluation.

This course is based in a hut high in the beautiful San Juan mountains. Food and accommodation is all inclusive in the fee. Being immersed in the mountains allows for more field time and an intimate interaction with the snow environment. 

Level II Course Objectives:

  • To improve the students avalanche hazard evaluation and personal forecasting capability.
  • Use and analyze snowpack and weather data.
  • Teach industry standard methods for weather and snowpack data collection and documentation. 
  • To practice route finding skills and applying forecasts to terrain. 
  • To gain more experience dealing with complex companion rescue.

Level II Curriculum

Tour Planning, Snowpack Metamorphism, Avalanche Mechanics, Observations: standards and recording, Forecasts, Mountain Weather, Route Finding, Stability Assessment, Decision Making, Group Management, Full and Test Pit Profiles, Rescue Leadership and Multiple Burial Scenarios.

Level II Field Sessions

Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon and most of the day on Sunday will be spent traveling into the backcountry with an instructor to participate in experiential sessions that examine topics discussed in the classroom. Field sessions include: multiple burial companion rescue, route finding and safe travel, backcountry stability assessment, full and test pit profiles, fracture line profiles and a snow crystallography lab. These sessions will also be an opportunity for instructors to evaluate where students need continued study to best support their aspirations.


Course Itinerary

Day 1
Introduction, Goals & Objectives
Formation and Nature of Avalanches
Mountain Snowpack
In the Field: Full Profile Demo
In the Classroom: Set up Snow Profile page
Weather Observations page
Avalanche Observations page

Day 2
Weather Observations
Factors that Affect / Indicate Snow Stability
Avalanche Terrain
Field Observations
Test Profile

Day 3
In the Field studying Avalanche Terrain
Test Profile
Field Observations
Review Mountain Snowpack & Discuss Current Stability
Case History Exercise

Day 4
Stability Analysis Process
Field Trip – Route Finding
Group Management, Developing Leadership & Decision-Making Skills

Course Details

Course runs 8am to 5pm daily

Jan 13-16, 2017
Mar 23-26, 2017
Cost: $650 per person

Cost Includes: lodging, food,  AIARE Level 2 Course Manual, AIARE Waterproof Field Book, and AIARE Level 2 certificate upon successful completion of the course.

Not Included: Transportation to the Hut. Please see our Getting Here page for logistics. We recommend bringing extra snacks and/or speciality food with you to the hut. 

Students receive the Snow, Weather and Avalanches: Observation Guidelines for Avalanche Programs in the United States 2010 edition AAA, USFS. as a part of the course. Students use the Level II Course Manual and an AIARE field book for the course.   We also recommend that students read the Avalanche Handbook (3rd edition) prior to the course. An AIARE Level II Course Certificate is provided at the end of the course.

Cancellation Policy:   A $35.00 fee is charged for course date transfers. 60% of the course cost can be refunded up to 30 days prior to the course start.  No refunds are provided for cancellations made less than 30 days prior to the start of the course for which you are registered. Unfortunately we cannot give refunds, rainchecks or cancellations if passes into Silverton are closed (best arrive early if the weather forecast is big).

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