Avalanche Education

Avalanche awareness and safety training is a must for anyone who engages in winter activities in the backcountry, including backcountry skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing, climbing, and backpacking to name a few.

The Colorado Mountain Club offers courses from the American Institute of Avalanche Research Education (AIARE). 

AIARE1Course@4x (1).png

AIARE Level 1, Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain, teaches you to recognize avalanche terrain, how to assess when it is safe to be in the area, and rescue techniques. Topics covered include snowpack evaluation, hazard analysis, safe travel techniques, and companion rescue using a beacon, shovel, and probe. In 2022, AIARE content will include online webinars and videos for student self-paced instruction, replacing previous classroom time. Field sessions are held each of the two days of the 24-hour course. 


 AIARE Level 2 is a three-day/24-hour course that provides backcountry travelers an opportunity to advance their decision-making skills in more complicated situations such as being a leader within a small travel group, traveling in more complicated terrain, and/or developing a travel plan where resources are scarce. The course builds on the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in AIARE 1 and adds to it the evaluation of critical hazard assessment factors. Topics covered include weather, snowpack, avalanche processes, and identifying how these processes relate to observations and travel within avalanche terrain.


AIARE Companion Rescue is a one-day stand-alone course that is intended to be retaken regularly in order to keep abreast of best practices in rescue techniques and gear. Learn the basics of companion rescue, while returning participants will expand your skill set with advanced topics and realistic scenario practice to help improve your skills. Topics covered include the usage of beacon/shovel/probe and techniques to extract a buried victim.


AvalancheTerrainAvoidanceCourse@4x.pngIf you're not planning to travel in avalanche terrain, then we recommend you enroll in an Avalanche Terrain Avoidance (ATA) seminar. This course teaches you where to find information on avalanche conditions and how to avoid avalanche terrain while in the backcountry. 



Scholarships are available to support continued education and training for CMC trip leaders and instructors. AIARE classes will be reimbursed. ATA classes will utilize a promo code during checkout. Click here for more information.

2023 Schedule:

AIARE Level 1

  • Session 1: January 17, 18, 19 - Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
  • Session 2: January 20, 21, 22 - Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
  • Session 3: January 31, February 1, 2 - Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday​
  • Session 4: February 3, 4, 5 - Friday, Saturday, Sunday

AIARE Companion Rescue/AvalancHe Rescue 

  • Session 1: January 23, Monday
  • Session 2: January 30, Monday

AIARE Level 2

  • Session 1: March 7 (online) -  Field sessions, March 13, 14, & 15 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Avalanche Terrain Avoidance (ATA)

The Avalanche Terrain Avoidance seminar is a basic seminar to help you recognize when and where avalanche danger may exist and how to avoid it. Sources of information and methods for planning avalanche-safe routes will be presented. This seminar requires no prerequisites. We are planning for in person classroom lecture this year.

The Field Sessions are a required part of the ATA seminar.

In order to AVOID avalanche terrain, you must be capable of RECOGNIZING IT. This is why you take ATA.

The seminar is required for winter, non-backcountry leaders who wish to lead winter trips in non-avalanche terrain. The field day for each session is on the Friday and Saturday following the online session. Students should bring the regular 10 Essentials and be prepared for winter conditions in the field.

This is a 4-hour seminar and a 4-hour field day for those who wish to AVOID avalanche terrain. The seminar is required for winter, non-backcountry leaders who wish to lead winter trips in non-avalanche terrain. The field day for each session is directly after the morning lecture. 

Bring your snowshoeing equipment to class, we will depart directly from class to the field day.

The class Objectives & Learning Outcomes are as follows:

  • Understand why Colorado has the most dangerous avalanche conditions in the U.S.
  • Learn what an avalanche is and what factors contribute to an avalanche.
  • Understand and apply the current avalanche forecast.
  • Recognize and avoid avalanche hazards.
  • Use tools for planning a successful trip.
  • Learn from a case study of an avalanche accident.

The field exercise allows students to use slope meters to determine potential avalanche-prone terrain and non-prone avalanche terrain as well as to determine route findings. These techniques can be taught with or without snow conditions.

Information for the 2022-2023 Season: Starting 1 November

You may register on-line for the Avalanche Terrain Avoidance under Education & Adventure → Schools & Classes → under the courses dropdown box → select Avalanche Education. THEN Register for the Field Day thru the Trip Signup Schedule. You need to register for both.


Fees: $40 CMC Non-Trip Leaders; $50 General Public

Trip Leaders may apply to The Leadership Project for free tuition. You will receive a discount code to use during checkout. 

The class limit is 30 people