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Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip

  • Price: $1,149.00$1,249.00
  • Duration: 3 Days, 2 or 3 Nights (location dependent)
(1 customer review)

This 3 day Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip takes place at various huts throughout Colorado. Enjoy the luxury of a warm hut and alpine skiing, right out the door.

Colorado Mountain School teaches the American Avalanche Institute (AAI) recreational curriculum (in place of the AIARE curriculum).  The AAI curriculum is approved by the American Avalanche Association (A3) and sets a new standard for avalanche training in the United States.

All field days are consecutive, course dates below indicate the first day in the field.

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Don’t see a date and location that works for you? We offer custom guiding 365 days a year. 

Looking for an avalanche training course in Utah, Wyoming or Montana? Sign up with our friends at American Avalanche Institute.

Overview:

Avalanche Level 1 Course curriculum brought to you by:

American Avalanche Institute Logo

We teach a complete program of curriculum established and developed by the American Avalanche Institute (AAI).

Take your avalanche education to the next level with our one-of-a-kind hut trips! Our Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trips are based out of various huts throughout Colorado. You’ll spend three days and two nights exploring backcountry terrain with dedicated AAI instructors. Participants need to travel on AT skis, splitboard, or snowshoes with snowboard. Whether you’re new to the backcountry or an experienced veteran, our hut-based avalanche courses give quick access to exciting terrain that will provide a fun atmosphere for learning firsthand.

Our team is made of experienced AAI instructors and professional mountain guides with decades of experience in avalanche terrain. This experience comes from the Alps to Alaska to right here in the Front Range of Colorado. Colorado is one of the country’s premier backcountry skiing and splitboarding destinations. With permits and access to multiple huts, we can offer an accessible trip for all ability levels. This Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip course combines classroom and field instruction, providing your group with a solid introduction to avalanche awareness. This course covers traveling in and around avalanche terrain, while gaining insight into decision-making strategies. This course also covers the human factors involved in avalanches, developing planning and travel techniques, and comprehensive rescue skills. Experience how avalanche beacons work, how to dig and analyze a snow pit, how to use the AAI Backcountry Checklist, and more.

Details:

Colorado Mountain School Adopts American Avalanche Institute Curriculum in Place of AIARE Course Curriculum

For 50 years, the American Avalanche Institute has provided one the most successful professional and recreational avalanche training programs. At the recreational and professional levels, their courses and curricula are fully approved by the American Avalanche Association (A3). AAI’s guides, avalanche professionals, and educators create the best recreational and professional avalanche courses in the world. Read more information about the switch from AIARE to AAI curriculum.

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1

  • Meet and Greet – Trailhead TBD or local coffee shop
    • Waivers (Grand Hut, Colorado Mountain School)
    • Equipment rentals
    • Gear checks (boots, puffy, food, avalanche equipment)
    • Introduction to the AAI Backcountry Checklist
  • Transition to Trailhead
  • Beacon Check & travel to Hut
  • Hut Orientation
  • Course Introduction
    • Colorado Mountain School (who we are and what we do)
    • AAI (who they are and what they do)
  • Course overview (daily schedule, course goals)
    • Course logistics
    • Student manual, field book, pencil
    • Risk management (explain waiver, specific hazards; mitigation
      strategies – everyone is a risk manager)
  • Intro to Companion Rescue
    • Function check, range check, flux lines demo
    • Pinpoint Probing
    • strategic shoveling, v-dig, conveyor belt
  • Rescue practice, coaching and scenario
  • Return to Hut
    • Introduction to Avalanches – The Avalanche Triangle
    • Avalanche types and nomenclature
    • Understanding the avalanche bulletin
    • Terrain Recognition, Route Finding and ATES
  • Debrief & Dinner Planning

Day 2

  • Breakfast
  • Overview of Upcoming Day; 
    • Review of Previous Day
    • The Mountain Snowpack
    • Mountain Weather and its influence on avalanche formation
    • Introduction to stability tests and field observations
  • Field Observation Tour; 
    • Intro to Snow Pits
    • Weather observations
    • Measuring slope angles and terrain management
  • Return to hut
    • Post-tour discussion, share obs, concerns and changes for next day
  • Human Factors and Heuristics
  • Tour planning (tools, tips, tricks)
  • Homework – tour plan in field groups
  • Dinner Prep

Day 3

  • Breakfast
  • AM Avalanche and weather briefing
    • Review and discuss tour plans 
    • Backcountry checklist
  • Pack personal gear; stash in building
  • Hut Clean-up
  • Student-Led Ski Tour- out in front, setting pace, making
    navigation decisions
  • Goals for the day: group leadership, pacing practice, group
    communication in circles, field observations, pits, companion rescue,
    identifying avalanche terrain, choosing terrain and practicing travel
    wisely techniques, navigation skills, self-care
  • Choose terrain and travel wisely
  • Course Debrief (at hut)
  • Next steps: where to go from here?
  • Resources: Mountain Hub, CalTopo, BCA website, CMS, CAIC, Front Range Ski
    Mo, NOLS/WMI
  • Travel to trailhead
  • Course Close

Meeting location:

Variable

Lodging:

Two nights of lodging at the Hut or Yurt included

Notes:

We believe that avalanche training is best taught by combining theoretical concepts and experiential learning. Some topics are best learned in a comfortable classroom setting and others in the mountains, moving through terrain and digging into the snow. You’ll have both.

The majority of your course will take place in the mountains where we will learn in an open-air environment. You should be prepared, mentally and physically, to stay immersed in the backcountry for up to six hours. You will be assigned to a small pod consisting of one AIARE Instructor and a maximum of six students to allow intimate instruction and physical distancing.

The nature of this pandemic requires us to be flexible and adaptable in how we deliver a quality training experience. Rest assured, from the moment you enroll all the way up to your course field days and beyond, our instructors will be a part of your learning progression and will provide you with the tools and resources you need to best prepare for your avalanche training course. If you’d like to learn more about what we are doing to manage COVID-19 risk for our students and guides, please view our FAQ page.

Why Our Avalanche Courses Are Worth It:

  • The AAI curriculum was developed, refined and honed by working Professionals in some of the most avalanche prone mountain ranges of North America.
  • Our Instructors are educators, not just minimally qualified instructors
  • We spend the majority of the course in the mountains, not inside
  • We provide valuable pre-course material to help you prepare
  • We provide bonus education opportunities to help you keep learning
  • Our Instructors are career guides, with decades of personal backcountry experience
  • Our Instructors are AMGA Ski Guide-trained or certified
  • We have a full-time office staff of GUIDES to answer all of your questions
  • Dozens of course dates to meet our guests scheduling needs
  • Get avalanche training in the ski venue you ski in locally
  • Fully sponsored by industry leaders Dynafit, SCARPA, Backcountry Access
  • Full avalanche rescue kit rentals at no charge – try before you buy

All Upcoming Dates and Locations:

  • December 13, 2024 - December 15, 2024 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • December 20, 2024 - December 22, 2024 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • December 27, 2024 - December 29, 2024 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • January 3, 2025 - January 5, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • January 10, 2025 - January 12, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • January 18, 2025 - January 20, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • January 24, 2025 - January 26, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • January 31, 2025 - February 2, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • February 15, 2025 - February 17, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • February 28, 2025 - March 2, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • March 14, 2025 - March 16, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • April 18, 2025 - April 20, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • December 29, 2024 - December 31, 2024 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Francie's Cabin, Colorado
  • February 21, 2025 - February 23, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Broome Hut, Colorado
  • March 10, 2025 - March 12, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Francie's Cabin, Colorado
  • April 4, 2025 - April 6, 2025 - Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip - Broome Hut, Colorado

At the end of the Avalanche Level 1 course the student should be able to:

  • Interpret the avalanche forecast bulletin and choose appropriate avalanche terrain for the day
  • Use of the Backcountry Avalanche Checklist in the field to provide a system for prioritizing information, working as a team, and minimizing possible human factor traps
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify avalanche terrain.
  • Demonstrate effective companion rescue
  • Understand avalanche terminology
  • Recognize and identify avalanche terrain
  • Understand safe travel best practices in avalanche terrain
  • Be Able to identify major layers mountain snowpack
  • Understand how weather changes the snowpack
  • Human factors and how they can influence decision-making
  • How to make and communicate field observations of terrain, snowpack, and weather
  • Basic use and interpretation of stability tests

Prerequisites:

This course can be taken on AT skis, splitboard, or snowboard with snowshoes. Participants must have experience on their setup prior to taking this course and be comfortable in steep blue to black terrain at the areas.

Time:

8am-5pm

Duration:

3 Days, 2 or 3 Nights (location dependent)

Maximum Ratio:

6:1

Minimum Age:

Please call to register participants under 18
Experience Level

Beginner

Activity Level

Moderate

Category

Backcountry Skiing & Splitboarding

Duration

Multi-Day

Price Includes:

Price Excludes:

  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Clothing, backpack and non-technical personal items
  • Skiing Equipment (Recommend Neptune Mountaineering)
  • Park Entrance Fees (where applicable)
  • Rescue Insurance
  • Trip Insurance
  • Gratuity
  • Misc. Charges
    • Rescue Fees
    • Helicopter Fees
    • Trip Insurance
  • Expenses due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of Colorado Mountain School

Item Description Quantity Example Purchase At Rent At Equipment Type
Avalanche Beacon

Modern, digital, three-antennae beacon with fresh batteries.

1

BCA Tracker 3 or 4

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School or Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Avalanche Probe

Collapsable metal or carbon rod used to probe avalanche debris while attempting to strike a buried target.

1

BCA Stealth 300

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School or Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Avalanche Rescue Shovel

Ski specific shovel used to dig pits and avalanche rescue. A metal blade is mandatory.

1

BCA B1 Ext

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School or Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Backpack: 20-40 liter

Packs smaller than this tend not to be able to carry the necessary amount of equipment and clothing.

1

CAMP M3 30L

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
Backpack: 45-65 liter

The approach to the hut will be more than 1 hour uphill. Everything you will be carrying should fit inside the pack.

1

CAMP M

5 50L

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Baselayer Bottoms

Synthetic or Merino Wool, Lightweight or mid-weight are recommended.

1

Men: Rab Syncrino Leggings
Women: Rab Syncrino Leggings

Rab

Clothing
Beanie or Fleece Hat

Should cover the ears and fit under a helmet. Hats with fluff balls on top do not fit under helmets.

1

Filament Beanie

Rab

Clothing
Bowl, mug, fork, and spoon

Personal utensils

1

Sea to Summit Delta Camp Set

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Climbing Skins

Nylon or mohair. Trimmed and adjusted to fit your skis or splitboard ahead of time.

1

Fischer Climbing Skins

Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Compass

Used for navigation and orientation. A compass with adjustable declination is preferrable.

1

Silva Ranger CLQ

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Ear Plugs

Sometimes fellow campers snore. Ear plugs may help you get quality rest.

1

Foam ear plugs

Optional
Face Mask – PPE

Optional; Look for a mask with a bendable border at the top so you can mold the mask to fit the bridge of your nose and prevent your glasses from fogging.

1 Clothing
First Aid Kit

Your guide will have an emergency First Aid Kit. You should bring a small kit including blister prevention and care products such as a role of athletic tape and Moleskin. Your kit should also contain a few Band-aids, some Tylenol and Ibuprofen.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Food

Proper lunches that are prepared ahead of time are recommended (sandwich, burrito, leftover pizza, etc), along with an assortment of snack bars, gels, or trail mixes. Feeze-dried meals are acceptable on overnight trips, but not day trips.

1

Made in Nature, Thrive Tribe

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Goggles

Protect your eyes and face from wind and sun burn.

1

Zeal Beacon Goggles

Zeal Optics

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Hardshell Pants

These should be non-insulated pants with ankle cuffs wide enough to fit over your ski or ride boots.

1

Men: Rab Khroma Kinetic Pant
Women: Rab Women’s Khroma Kinetic Pants

Rab Stores

Clothing
Headlamp

Load with fresh batteries. Critical for hiking before sunrise and great to have in the pack in case you are caught out after dark.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Heavyweight Waterproof Glove

This glove comes out when the winter going gets cold and wet or at higher altitudes.

1

Men: Pivot GTX Glove
Women: Pivot GTX Glove

Rab Store

Clothing
Hot Drinks

Coffee, tea, hot cocoa are great for warming up when it’s cold outside.

1

Cusa Tea; Alpine Start Coffee

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Hut Shoes

Having a slipper, bootie, or Croc to walk around in while inside the hut keeps your socks dry and your feet warmer and more comfortable.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Lightweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Worn against the skin and is considered a “wicking” layer that facilitates the movement of moisture away from the skin and through the layers. Hooded base layers add extra versatility.

2

Men: Rab Syncrino Base LS Tee
Women: Rab Syncrino Base LS Tee

Rab

Clothing
Lightweight Gloves

Synthetic; Thin gloves used when hiking the early morning approach. Belay gloves can suffice if full-fingered.

1

Rab Vapour-Rise Glove

Rab Store

Clothing
Lip ScreenSPF 15 or higher.

Non-SPF rated lip balms can actually increase your chances of getting burned.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Lip Balm

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Mechanical Pencil

Great for taking notes in the field.

1 Optional
Midweight Baselayer Top

Synthetic or Merino Wool; Adds extra warmth and protection from the cold and wind without creating a moisture barrier as a jacket would. Having at least one base layer that is hooded adds versatility, protecting the neck and ears from cold winds.

1

Men: Rab Ascendor Light Hoodie
Women: Rab Ascendor Light Hoodie

Rab

Clothing
Midweight Softshell Glove

This is the workhorse glove and is most often worn on warmer days when mountaineering. Softshell gloves are water-resistant and durable. They often have leather palms and fingers.

1

Rab Khroma Tour Glove

Rab

Clothing
Neck Gaiter

“Buffs” are quite versatile in their uses. They can be used as light beanies, neck warmers, and can offer face protection from the cold wind or sun.

1

CMS Neck Gaiter

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Pajamas

It can be nice to have something clean to change into each night for sleeping in your sleeping bag.

1 Clothing
Personal Care Items

Medications, glasses or contacts, feminine products, etc.

1 Optional
Personal Toilet Kit

At minimum, bring a small Ziploc with toilet paper. Consider bringing a travel sized package of hand-wipes. Idealy, purchase, or for free from the RMNP Backcountry office, bring a “Rest Stop.” The Rest Stop, known as “Blue Bags” in the Pacific Northwest, or the “Wag Bag” in other areas, are poop-in-a-bag systems that include toilet paper and a sanitizing hand wipe.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Ski Helmet

This item is recommended but not required. We will be skiing in the trees, and in snow conditions where rocks, stumps, and downded logs are present.

1

Camp Speed Comp

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ski or Snowboard Boots

Footwear should be appropriate to mode of travel i.e. ski, snowboard, or insulated winter boots for snowshoes. For snowshoers, a boot such as the Scarpa Mont Blanc is the minimum level of boot required. Ski Boots should have a walk mode.

1

Scarpa Maestrale RS

Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ski or Trekking Poles

Two poles, with powder baskets, are required for all skiers, splitboarders, and snowshoers. It is ideal if poles are ski-specific and collapse small enough to fit onto a pack when climbing.

1

BCA Scepter

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Ski Straps

18″ Rubber or velcro straps to connect skis when attaching them to a pack. Also useful for a variety of in-the-field equipment repairs.

2

BCA Ski Strap

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Skis or Snowboard

Skis should have touring bindings; lightweight tech bindings are ideal. Splitboards are ideal for snowboarders. Snowboarders using resort snowboards will need to have snowshoes and poles.

1

Skis: Fischer Transalp 98 CTI
Bindings: Dynafit Radical

Splitboard: Weston Backcountry
Splitboard Bindings: Spark/Karakoram x Weston

Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Sleeping Bag (10° to 35°)

Down or synthetic sleeping bag is acceptible.

1

Rab Neutrino 400

Rab Store

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Smart Phone App

There are a plethora of apps that assist in navigation. These apps use your phone’s GPS functions and can work in the mountains offline.

1

Avanet; Gaia Maps; Topo Maps

Optional
Smartphone

Great for taking photos and videos. Smartphone batteries tend to shut down in freezing temps – keep your phone in a warm inner layer. A tether is ideal in the mountains to protet against dropping your phone.

1 Optional
Softshell and Fleece Jacket

Water-resistant, windproof, yet it “breaths,” which means it allows moisture to move through. Hoods are ideal. There are multiple thicknesses of Softshell jackets. A lightweight or medium-weight jacket is preferred. Fleece jackets are acceptable.

1

Men: Rab VR Summit Jacket
Women: Rab VR Summit Jacket

Rab

Clothing
Sports Bra

Provides support and allows for full range of motion

1

North Face Beyond the Wall

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Sun Hat

A billed hat to keep the bright mountain sun at bay.

1

Rab Trucker Logo Cap

Rab

Clothing
Sunglasses

“Wrap-Around” style sunglasses with 100% UV Protection.

1

ZEAL RAD CLIFF SUNGLASSES

Zeal Optics 

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
SunscreenSPF 30 or higher.

Travel size.

1

Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 50

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Synthetic or Down Puffy Jacket

Fits over all other layers and is worn at breaks and on really cold days. Synthetic puffies are more durable, are easily laundered, and dry out quickly if wet. Down puffies are lighter weight, pack smaller, and provide exceptional warmth, but once wet, they stay wet.

1

Men: Rab Mythic Alpine Light Jacket
Women: Rab Mythic Alpine Light Jacket

Rab

Clothing
Synthetic or Merino Wool Socks

Wool and synthetic blends are great for long days on the trail. “Ski” and “Snowboard” socks are especially useful when warmth is desired.

2

Point 6 AT Hike Light Crew

Neptune Mountaineering

Clothing
Thermos

Many ice climbers prefer to bring a thermos of hot water or soup instead of one of their water bottles.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Toe Warmers and Hand Heaters

Help keep you warm on particularly cold days.

1

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Toiletries

Bring enough for the trip. Toothpaste; brush, floss, deodorant, lotion, eye drops, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.

1 Optional
Watch with Altimiter

An altimeter is very useful in gauging progression of altitude gain or loss when climbing, and especially when visibility is decreased due to weather. Many Altimeter watches have compasses or GPS tracking functions.

1

Suunto Vector; Suunto Core

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
Water Bottles

1 liter bottles are the standard. Bladders such as Camelbacks and Platypus are acceptable for above freezing temps, but only in conjunction with another bottle. Bladders are not acceptable during sub freezing temps. Sports drinks are also acceptable.

2

Nalgene, Hydro Flask

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
Waterproof Shell Jacket

Non-insulated, Gore-Tex, Dermizax, Event, or other waterproofing system is required. Mostly, this jacket sits in the bottom of your pack and comes out when the weather gets nasty with precipitation. This jacket should fit over all other layers.

1

Men: Rab Khroma Cirque GORE-TEX Jacket
Women: Rab Women’s Khroma Cirque GORE-TEX Jacket

Rab

Clothing

COVID-19

Q: Will COVID-19 impact my course?

A: 2020 made it clear that running programs while managing the risk of COVID-19 transmission is a challenge. It is a challenge that the Colorado Mountain School team tackled creatively and courageously. We may need to shift our classrooms to virtual settings at a moment’s notice. We may need to put on masks unexpectedly. We may need to go outside and distance ourselves. No matter what though, we are committed to running programs, providing education, and serving our mission, while also maintaining the highest standards of risk management. Please visit our FAQ page or contact us for more information.

1 review for Avalanche Level 1 Hut Trip

  1. Christopher Abisla (verified owner)

    This class was absolutely amazing and a really great way to get your AIARE 1 learning in while getting to go out and experience a hut trip. Taking the class in this format is way more enjoyable as you get a good ammount of skiing/touring in great terrain where you get to see and truly understand what terrain is dangerous and why. This class not only teaches how to be cautious and make informed decisions, but also really opens you up to the understanding that there is an immense amount of safe terrain to enjoy without having to put yourself in danger. Staying up in the mountains, cooking, & hanging out after class and getting to know your classmates and guides is also a really big positive addition to the class and worth choosing this style of course. If you are trying to decide between the normal class and this hut trip, choose this one every time.

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