Recreational Level 2: Integrated Avalanche Rescue

The Recreational Level 2 is tailored specifically to meet the needs of advanced recreational students who have taken a Recreational Level 1 Course. 

With COVID-19, our Rec 2 schedule is currently being developed for the 2021 season.

Not all avalanche education is created equal and nothing exemplifies this greater than Silverton Avalanche School’s Recreational Level 2. This Rec. Level 2 meets and exceeds the national standards. Created to meet the needs of advanced, backcountry users and meticulously refined based upon our alumni’s feedback, this capstone experience represents the pinnacle of training for recreationalists in the United States.

This intensive, FOUR DAY course immerses participants in the mountains, includes ample field time and will push students to new levels of excellence. Building upon key concepts introduced in the Recreational Level 1 course, SAS’s Integrated Level Two course has been designed to foster greater competence and cultivate increased confidence in backcountry travelers.

In 2019-2020, we are proud to offer both town-based and hut-based Level 2 courses in the magnificent San Juan Mountains; arguably the richest and most interesting off-piste classroom in the contiguous US. We encourage you to apply for this most challenging and rewarding course in our recreational program of studies.


Students will live and learn together, traveling into complex terrain daily and returning each evening to shared front country accommodations in Silverton. 3 nights of accommodation in Silverton at a shared house is included in the price of the town based Rec. Level 2. Think hut style living in which each student has a bed but in town. 

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 will be focused on Integrated Avalanche Rescue, Friday and most of the day on Saturday 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.

Who Should Take this Course

The Rec. Level 2 is a four-day course for those who have taken a Rec. Level 1 and have had at least a year of backcountry travel experience. The Rec. Level 2 provides backcountry leaders the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills as well as incorporate Avalanche Rescue fundamentals in the same week.


Participants must have the ability to travel in avalanche terrain. A Rec. Level 1 Course or equivalent Level 1 training is required. A winter of practical experience after the Level 1 course is required before taking the Rec. Level 2 course. The required one day Avalanche Rescue course is now included within the Integrated Level 2.  

Course Outline

Day 1: Integrated Avalanche Rescue Fundamentals  

  • Identify and familiarize with rescue equipment and their proper use
  • Apply Quick Reference tool to a scenario
  • Demonstrate avalanche rescue
  • Breakdown and practice individuals skills of avalanche rescue
  • Single burial scenarios

Day 1: The Changing Mountain Snowpack

  • Level 1 Review
  • Mountain Weather
  • The Layered Mountain Snowpack
  • Trip Planning Review
  • Snowprofiles in the Field

Day 2: Making Quality Observations

  • Avalanche Formation and Release
  • Interpreting Weather Data, Snow Surface Conditions, and Snow Profiles
  • Craftsmanship, Relevancy, and Verification of Snow Observations
  • Risk Management in Small Groups
  • Snowpack Test in the Field

Day 3: Applying Observations to Field Decisions

  • Traveling in the Field as a Small Team
  • Field Risk Management and During Action Review
  • Communicating Observations to our group, other travelers, and local experts


Course Details

Course runs 4 days, 8am to 5pm daily.

Dates will be released in August 2020

Cost: $650 town based courses |

All Courses Include: Level 2 Course Manual, Waterproof Field Book, and Level 2 certificate upon successful completion of the course.
Hut-Based Costs Include: Lodging and Food.  We do recommend bringing extra snacks and/or speciality food with you to the hut. Transportation to the hut is not included, please see our Our Venues page for logistics. 
Town Based Courses: Lodging, Food, and Transportation is not included. Students will need to book their own accommodations.

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, rain checks or cancellations if passes are closed (best arrive early if the weather forecast is big)

Recommend Reading: 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  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.

Interested in Attending?