Close this search box.

Which Avalanche Training Course is the Right Course for Me?

AIARE Flow Chart for Colorado Mountain School. What avalanche training course should I take?


Over the past decade we have seen tremendous growth and demand in formal Avalanche Training Education and Certification processes for both recreational users and professional avalanche workers. As the outdoor industry as a whole has continued to expand and enjoy significant growth, so too has the number, availability, accessibility, and quality of Avalanche Training Programs. Moving forward in 2017/18 there will be a shift across the avalanche industry in courses being offered to folks to create separate progressions for recreationalists and professionals after the Level 1 course.

Recreational Track

The standard Avalanche Level 1 Course of the past, will now be known as the Level 1 Recreational Course and will be one of two gateways that is necessary to enter into formal avalanche training in the US; taken through either an American Institute for Avalanche Research & Education (AIARE), or American Avalanche Institute (AAI) course provider. Also, NEW this year will be a 1-day stand alone Avalanche Rescue Course  that can be taken for its own sake, or before or after a Level 1 Recreational Course for folks interested in moving on to either the Level 2 Recreational Course, OR the Professional Level 1 Course.

The NEW Level 2 Recreational Course, will be a shortened version of the old Level 2 course (3 days as opposed to 4) and is less focused on professional level recording standards and more focused on advanced decision-making skills for recreational group leaders and folks interested in backcountry travel in more complicated and serious avalanche terrain.

Professional Track

The Professional Level Course Tract is designed for training and certifying professional avalanche workers new to the industry (educators, patrollers, guides, forecasters), and can be accessed via the Recreational Tract Courses OR the Pro Bridge Course. This NEW tract of Professional Courses will be both more in depth in regards to industry based curriculum for working professionals, and have an added examination component for evaluating students skills, something that was only previously done on the old Avalanche Level 3 Course. Due the new and rigorous examination component of these courses, many of the Professional Level Courses will be offered on a smaller scale and only in direct coordination with AIARE or AAI specific course providers.

The first entry course into the Professional Training Tract will be the Professional Level 1 Course and will be offered through select AIARE and AAI Course providers. It is a 5-day pass / fail course, and is similar to the older traditional Level 2 course, with the addition of an evaluation / examination component.

For folks with previous Avalanche Level 1 and 2 Course Training looking to imbed themselves directly into the Professional Training Tract, there is the The AIARE Professional 1 Bridge Course & Exam being offered by some select course providers. This course provides training and certification for the avalanche worker who took an old AIARE Level 2 Course (prior to winter 2017/18) as a step in their professional avalanche education, and is ready to challenge the PRO 1 exam.

At this time the Professional Level 2 Avalanche Course is being offered ONLY directly through AIARE and AAI, and NOT through individual Course Providers. The flow and course offerings that the Colorado Mountain School will be offering this year as our continued relationship and provider of the AIARE avalanche course progression is outlined below…

AIARE Program Overview

The NEW Training Program Flow acknowledges the need to embrace common training standards and support course consistency in order to better serve the interests of the avalanche industry, education, and workplace safety. In taking time to redevelop this course progression the American Avalanche Association (AAA) has engaged diverse industry stakeholders for education like the American Avalanche Institute (AAI), and the American Institute for Avalanche Research & Eduction (AIARE), to design this program flow while keeping the best interests of the entire avalanche industry in mind. As a longtime, and the largest AIARE Course Provider in the country, the Colorado Mountain School is excited to be a part of bringing this new shift in avalanche education training tracts to folks beginning this Winter!

If you’re still looking for advice on which avalanche training course is best for you, visit our Interactive AIARE Flow Chart or give us a call at 800-836-4008.
AIARE Flow Chart. What avalanche training course should I take?

More To Explore

summer backcountry trip with Rainbow

Ignite Your Passion

Learn and Explore with Colorado Mountain School

Start Your Adventure

Stay Connected

Enjoy free tips and tricks from professional mountain guides, special offers and updates, and much more.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.