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AIARE Avalanche Level 1 – Breckenridge/Vail CO

AIARE Avalanche Level 1 – Breckenridge/Vail CO


Location - Colorado, Breckenridge

December 2, 2023 - December 3, 2023 December 9, 2023 - December 10, 2023 December 16, 2023 - December 17, 2023 January 6, 2024 - January 7, 2024


Come take your AIARE Level 1 with Backcountry Babes in our all women’s avalanche course!

Backcountry Babes is an AIARE Course Provider and we teach the time-tested and regularly updated AIARE avalanche curriculum.  Additionally, we create a community that inspires, educates, and promotes leadership for women in the outdoors.  Our courses are taught by Backcountry Babes Guides (of all genders) who are experienced educators and AIARE qualified instructors. Our guides support our mission of providing women with the knowledge, skills and encouragement to take on leadership roles in the outdoors.

We provide a comfortable, fun learning atmosphere to gain knowledge and skills that help you become more confident in the backcountry. Our AIARE Level 1 course covers awareness of hazardous conditions, dynamics of snowpack and weather, effective teamwork, and how to plan for travel in avalanche terrain. We’ll build knowledge in the online classroom evening sessions, and apply it to our two full field days outside. The goal is learn and practice a repeatable system for how to make better decisions in the backcountry!

Upon successful completion of the course, participants will obtain their AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Certificate of Completion.

We’ve been teaching courses in Summit County since 1997!  Our instructors have considerable experience on Breckenridge, Monarch & Eldora Professional Ski Patrols, at Outward Bound, teaching recreational and pro AIARE Courses, have taken AMGA courses, teach for the US military and more.  Our Colorado Backcountry Babes AIARE Course leaders have at least 15+ years experience in the avalanche industry. We are one of the smallest, longest running, and most experienced backcountry ski and splitboard guide services in Summit County and we’d love to have you join us. See our guide bio pages for more info.


Need help paying for an AIARE Course or Beginner Backcountry Tour? Please see if you meet the criteria and apply on our Scholarship Page:

Duration:  2 online evening sessions and  2 field days
Activity Level: Moderate
Required Skill Level: Students must be able to travel in avalanche terrain in inclement weather at 9000+ ft. on their backcountry equipment and move proficiently uphill and downhill on gear.  Your skiing doesn’t have to look pretty, but we do need everyone to be comfortable skiing and riding in control and avoiding obstacles on the descent.  If it is your first time using your AT set up or splitboard, we highly recommend taking a Beginner Backcountry Tour to prep for the AIARE Level 1. In the Beginner Tour you’ll learn how to use your equipment and how to travel in the backcountry efficiently so you can focus on learning about the avalanche hazard in your AIARE 1.  Take the Beginner tour on Friday and stack it with your AIARE 1 on Saturday & Sunday.

2023-2024 Course Dates Available for Signup:

Nov 28 & 30 Online Sessions and Dec 2 & 3 Field Days

Dec 5 & 7 Online Sessions and Dec 9-10 Field Days

Dec 5 & 14 Online Sessions and Dec 16-17 Field Days

Dec 5 & Jan 4 Online Sessions and Jan 6-7 Field Days

About the AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course


Our course is comprised of 3 parts– online learning to be completed before class starts, 2 online sessions with your instructors and classmates, and 2 full backcountry field days!

Two Online Classroom Sessions

6:00pm - 8:00pm

Begin your with self-paced online lessons through AIARE’s online learning and our Backcountry Babes google classroom, specific to our course area. Our precourse work will be essential to learn basic concepts at your own pace and to incorporate new vocabulary, skills, knowledge & ideas into your framework of understanding.  You’ll get the links when you sign up for our class, so you can start learning avalanche basics asap and incorporating AIARE curriculum into your backcountry routines. Takes most people 2-6 hours to complete. Can be done in bitesized pieces at your own pace for best knowledge absorption!

Our 2 online classroom sessions take place on weeknight evenings with your instructors and fellow students, specific to our course area. Here we’ll learn about avalanche terrain, snowpack, avalanche problems, case studies of real avalanche accidents, human factors in decision making, interpreting the avalanche bulletin and weather forecast, developing a route plan with online mapping tools, and creating a trip plan.  These sessions will include live presentations with our Backcountry Babes instructors, Q&A sessions, and small group breakouts. Come with question from your homework! Typically ZOOM from 6-8pm on Tuesday and Thursday night before your field days.

Use your new skills to make real trip plans and instructors will provide feedback.  The online learning sessions are the foundation of success for our two full field days on Saturday and Sunday– and will help you incorporate knowledge and build good habits for your future backcountry touring days. Field Days typically are from 8:00am – 3:30pm in the Breck / Vail / Loveland area.  We will go over field locations in detail in our online evening sessions.  We will start and end class in an indoor location near our field locations if possible, depending on COVID restrictions next winter.  In 2020-2021 we did all our field days completely outside, which we can repeat if needed, however, if we can debrief our days in a warm coffee shop or bar, we will try to do that!

Saturday - All Day Field Day

8:00am - 5:00pm

Today we’ll meet at the trailhead for an all day field day in a small pod of students and your instructor.  Objectives for our field time include learning how to use your beacon, shovel and probe and the daily habit of trailhead checks. We’ll practice up-to-date and efficient techniques for avalanche rescue and learn how to travel together as a group, including conducting moving observations and digging snow pits to collect more observations about the snowpack. As we travel, we’ll practice avalanche terrain recognition and selection of the best uptracks and down routes, visual clues and red flags.  The day will end with a facilitated and very important group debrief with touring partners.

Sunday - All Day Field Day

8:00am - 5:00pm

Bring all your skills and knowledge from the week into your final tour day.  Students will practice leading a tour under the guidance and supervision of instructors.  Come prepared with your tour plan, and ask as many questions as possible of your highly experienced instructors!  We’ll practice decision making in the field and reassessment throughout including ongoing observations, and skiing and riding techniques.  We’ll wrap up our final field day with the daily debrief.

The goal is to send all our student off into the world with a great foundation for making better decisions in the backcountry.  Backcountry travel is a lifelong learning experience.  It’s important to keep up your education with future Backcountry Babes events, an AIARE Rescue Course, our AIARE Level 2, a guided backcountry ski trip, a Backcountry Babes Intermediate Tour, reading, avalanche conferences, and more.  : ). You’ll always be a part of the Backcountry Babes community!

What to Expect

  • Comfortable and fun learning atmosphere
  • Attentive, experienced, & professional AIARE qualified instructors.  Your instructor team may include women and men who support our mission of women becoming leaders in their backcountry pursuits
  • Engaging online classroom and field sessions
  • Appropriate and applicable avalanche safety knowledge
  • Practical experience in the field
  • Includes AIARE Field Book, online Student Manual, and pre-course AIARE Online Learning Module
  • Self-empowerment regarding backcountry travel & decision-making

Gear Needed

Backcountry skis or splitboard, ski poles, ski or snowboard boots, climbing skins, avalanche beacon, avalanche probe, avalanche shovel, backcountry backpack, proper outerwear and warm layers for field time. A limited quantity of shovels, probes, and BCA beacons in an Osprey Ski Pack are available to rent for the course on a first-come, first-serve basis. These are available at the online checkout and will be brought to the course by your instructor. We recommend Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge to rent or purchase any other gear!

Two Online Classroom Sessions ~6:00-9:00pm + homework

Two Outdoor Field Days, Saturday and Sunday ~8am-5pm

Getting There

FLY: To Denver or Vail/Eagle airport in Colorado.

DRIVE: To our trailheads in the Breckenridge/ Vail area.  Our touring locations include Mt Baldy, Loveland Pass, Hoosier Pass, Vail Pass, Meadow Mountain or another of our USFS permitted locations. If you are looking to book lodging, Dillon, Frisco, and Breck are all fairly central to the majority of our touring locations.  Exact touring location is weather and condition dependent. You will receive specific touring location information during our online evening sessions.

Backcountry Babes is an equal opportunity service provider and employer. Backcountry Babes operates under special use permit from the USDA Forest Service, White Mountain National Forest Ranger District and Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District.


I’m so happy I took AIARE 1 with Backcountry Babes– awesome instructors who are so knowledgeable and helpful. All my questions were answered and discussed in helpful ways. The instructors really made me feel important and wanted to help in anyway they could. It was really awesome to be surrounded by other rad women. I’ll definitely be taking more classes and hopefully some trips with the Babes!

Alida T.Keystone, CO

I appreciated the balance of classroom education and field application. All of the instructors were AWESOME. Approachable, allowing for all of us to ask any question.

Trent KDenver, CO

This course was beneficial in so many ways – We lived backcountry touring for a couple of days and got to go through the motions of trip planning, avalanche observations, and terrain management. I have a great framework moving forward. Our instructors Kirsten, Casey, and Janine did a great job working together. I really liked hearing different perspectives, experiences and styles.

Nathan LLittleton, CO

There is an incredibly positive and high energy stoke level of the female-empowered AND co-ed classroom environment. It is cool to hear our students discuss the value of the learning environment–enjoying growth through our women’s empowerment focus and recognizing the reality that future teamwork will consist of co-ed teams in the backcountry.

Anne St. ClairLead Instructor

This co-ed setup is so cool, as it allows couples to take an AIARE class together in a stigma-free environment where both partners can feel empowered instead of the “token” female among males or vice versa taking an avalanche course. It really flows well with what AIARE tries to accomplish and I think everyone in the group really enjoyed this format and how well the group dynamics worked.

Mike BortnowskiAIARE Avalanche Level 1 Instructor

The instructors were phenomenal. They did an awesome job of conveying important information and reminding us of the big picture of staying safe and making conservative decisions. They were also wonderful in the arena of women empowerment and development. Very impressed.

Evelyn I.Eagle, CO