Earn the knowledge and tools to make more informed decisions in avalanche terrain with our AIARE Level 1 Course: Decision-Making in Avalanche Terrain.
We use the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) curriculum because it sets the standard. Your course will be taught by experienced, professional and fun Backcountry Babes instructors who are are trained and qualified by AIARE.
We create a comfortable, fun learning atmosphere to help our students make better informed decisions in avalanche terrain. Become more knowledgable, gain better awareness of hazardous conditions, dynamics of snowpack and weather, effective teamwork, and how to plan for travel in avalanche terrain. Learn the most effective techniques for companion rescue with your beacon, shovel and probe. Combining classroom and field components each day, our course empowers our students to be active decision-makers in their backcountry teams.
Upon successful completion of the course, participants will obtain their AIARE-Avalanche Level 1 Certificate.
Need financial help to pay for an avalanche education course? View our Avalanche Scholarship Program to learn more about whether you meet any of the criteria.
Our organization specifically works to support women taking leadership roles in the outdoors. We provide a comfortable, fun learning atmosphere to gain the knowledge and skills to become more confident and make better decisions in the backcountry. We bring this same attitude of inclusiveness, support and positive learning environment to our co-ed courses. This course is for everyone who supports gender equality in the outdoors. Come with your ski partner, as an individual, or with friends.
Duration: 3 days
Activity Level: Moderate
Required Skill Level: Students must be able to travel in avalanche terrain (travel outdoors in inclement weather at 9000+ft). Comfort skiing ungroomed green/blue slopes.
Start out in the classroom, covering basic concepts of avalanche phenomena (types, characteristics, motion, size, mountain snowpack). Then grab your beacon, shovel and probe as we head outside to learn the most up-to-date companion rescue techniques. We’ll practice in our ski gear near the classroom.
Plan and prep for our backcountry tour. Learn how to take field observations, how to access online avalanche information, mountain weather, and how to interpret the avalanche report. Where are the safest routes to travel? Learn by studying avalanche terrain and route selection. Learn to recognize red flags and learn about common human errors through case studies. This afternoon we head out for a backcountry ski tour. Our tour focuses on digging snow pits and snowpack stability tests.
Eye-opening morning class time on the human factors of decision making and common group pitfalls. Learn decision making skills, effective communication strategies, and heuristic traps. Then we’ll head out on the skin trail for most of the day, studying route finding and travel techniques and more snowpack tests. Bring it all together with the goal of making good decisions in the backcountry!
Backcountry skis or split-board, ski poles, ski or snowboard boots, climbing skins, avalanche beacon, avalanche probe, avalanche shovel, backcountry backpack, and proper outerwear and warm layers for field time. A limited quantity of BCA shovels, BCA probes, BCA Transceivers in an Osprey Pack are available to rent for the course for an added fee. We also highly recommend Mountain Outfitters in Breckenridge for your gear rental needs.
Backcountry Babes is an equal opportunity service provider and employer. Backcountry Babes operates under special use permit from the USDA Forest Service, White River National Forest.
FLY: To Denver or Vail/Eagle airport in Colorado and take a shuttle or car to Breckenridge, Colorado.
DRIVE: To Breckenridge, CO
She began working professionally in the mountains in 2002 and has spent the last 15 years as an outdoor educator, instructor, technical guide, ski patroller and avalanche forecaster.
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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. Clair Lead 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 Bortnowski AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Instructor