Avalanche Level 1


Course Description

The level one is a 4 day/32 hour introduction to avalanche hazard management. The course is expected to:

Provide a basic understanding of avalanches

Describe a framework for decision making and risk management in avalanche terrain

Focus on identifying the right questions, rather than on providing “answers.”

Give lessons and exercises that are practically oriented, useful, and applicable in the field.

Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn rescue techniques required to find and dig up a buried person (if an avalanche occurs and someone in the party is caught).

A final debrief includes a knowledge quiz to test student comprehension and to give feedback to instructors on instructional tools. Students are encouraged and counseled on how to apply the skills learned and told that no course can fully guarantee safety, either during or after course completion. A link is made to a future AIARE Level 2 course.

Student learning outcomes.

At the end of the Level One course the student should be able to:

Plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain.

Recognize avalanche terrain.

Describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain.

Learn and apply effective companion rescue.

Instructional sessions ( 24 hours including both class and field instruction) :

1. Introduction to the Avalanche Phenomena

Types and characteristics of avalanches

Avalanche motion

Size classification

The mountain snowpack: an introduction to metamorphism and layering

2. Observations and Information Gathering

Field observation techniques

Bonding tests: rutschblock, compression test,

Avalanche danger factors; “Red Flags”.

Observation checklist

Avalanche danger scale

Trip Planning and Preparation

Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment, and selection

Route finding and travel techniques

Decision making and Human Factors

Companion Rescue and Equipment

Student Prerequisites :

Students must be able to travel in avalanche terrain.  Skis &n Splitboards with touring equipment or snowshoes are fine. 

Required Gear:   (available for hire upon request)

Digital Beacon

Robust Probe (>2.5m)

Metal Shovel

ABS backpack

AIARE Level 1

Decision Making In

Avalanche Terrain

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Take the Level 1 Quiz           Find out what you know!           Level 1 Quiz.pdf       


Preview the Field Book        (Guide’s waterproof notebook)   2011 fillable field book.pdf