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Avalanche Level 2 Hut Trip

  • Price: $1,149.00$1,399.00
  • Duration: 3 Days, 3 Nights

Our 3-day Avalanche Level 2 Hut Trips take place at various huts throughout Colorado. Enjoy the luxury of a warm hut and easy access to alpine skiing with the best avalanche instructors around.

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 2 Course curriculum brought to you by:

American Avalanche Institute Logo

Take your avalanche education to the next level with our one-of-a-kind hut trips! Our Avalanche Level 2 Hut Trip runs at various huts throughout Colorado. We’ll head into the hut, settle into basecamp, and spend three nights and three days covering AAI’s Avalanche Level 2 curriculum and exploring backcountry terrain.

Our team is made of experienced AAI Qualified 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. This Avalanche Level 2 Hut Trip course combines classroom and field instruction.

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 about the switch from AIARE to AAI curriculum.

Sample Itinerary:

Your course will take place in the mountains, digging in the snow and moving through the terrain. You should be prepared, mentally and physically, to stay immersed in the backcountry for up to eight hours. You will be assigned to a small pod consisting of one AAI Qualified Instructor and a maximum of six students to simultaneously allow intimate instruction and the ability to spread out.  Here’s a preview itinerary of what your course could look like:

Optional Refresher -AAI Avalanche Level 1 Refresher

The AAI Avalanche Level 1 Refresher is a self-paced online learning module designed to provide a solid refresher before the season and/or your course.

.Self-Paced AAI e-Learning: 

The AAI Avalanche Level 2 Prep course is an optional self-paced online learning module that will give you a head start on both classroom and field topics

 

Day 1

  • Meet and Greet – Trailhead TBD or designated location
    • Waivers (Grand Hut, Colorado Mountain School)
    • Equipment rentals
    • Gear checks (boots, puffy, food, avalanche equipment)
    • Introduction to the AAI Backcountry Checklist
  • 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)
  • Companion Rescue Review – single & multiple burial scenarios
    • Advanced search strategy and beacon functions
    • Micro-strip vs. 3 circle method
    • Group rescue response
    • Triage, Evac
  • Instructor led ski tour to gather observations ( Avy, Wx, Snpx )
    • Instructor demo; Review of Seasonal Snowpack; Craftsmanship, Relevancy, and Verification of Snow Observations; Snowpack Tests in the Field.
  • Return to Hut and Debrief tour and share Obs
  • Dinner Planning
  • Tour plan for Day 2 – goals and objectives 

Day 2

  • Breakfast
  • Review of Previous Day – Q&A
  • Student-led morning hazard discussion and tour plan (avalanches, snowpack, weather)
  • Student-led tour: Terrain identification and information gathering: stability tests and test pits; snowpack structure; interpreting weather data, snow surface conditions
  • In-situ discussions of how specific weak layers and avalanche conditions have formed
  • Post-Trip Debrief and sharing of field observations
  • Dinner Prep
  • Using existing snowpack, new observations and weather forecast to develop tomorrows avalanche forecast
  • Tour plan for Day 3 – goals and objectives 

Day 3

  • Breakfast
    • Pack personal gear; stash in building
    • Hut Clean-up
  • Review of Previous Day – Q&A
  • Student-led morning hazard discussion and tour plan (avalanches, snowpack, weather)
  • Student-led trailhead transceiver function check
  • Student-led tour: verify/challenge morning forecast; group management / terrain selection / travel techniques – up and down group management
  • Return to hut
  • Post-Trip Debrief and share field observations
  • Next steps: where to go from here?
  • Getting out there – what can you do on your own? What do you need a
    more skilled partner for? What skills should a mentor have?
  • Transition (Hut to Trailhead)
  • Course Close

Optional Learning Resources – All Season Long

  • Virtual mentorship sessions
  • Students-only webinars
  • Tech tip video library
  • Community facebook forum: find partners, discuss coursework & more

 

Meeting location:

Each Avalanche Level 2 Hut trip offered has a separate meeting location in the nearest town prior to heading to the trailhead.

Lodging:

Two nights of lodging is 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 6 hours. You will be assigned to a small pod consisting of one AAI Qualified 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:

  • 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

AAI Pro 1 or Avalanche Level 2?

We get this question often. The Pro 1 is a professional, entry-level course that focuses on teaching skills to facilitate sharing and using information while working within an operation (e.g. ski resort, guide service, CDOT, etc.). The Pro 1 is less valuable if you are not working in an operation where you will use these skills.

Recreational travelers conduct a similar risk management process, but do it without the broad network of information and personnel support an operation provides. There is greater uncertainty and they (generally) have fewer days using a risk management process. Because of this, they operate with greater uncertainty. Enter Avalanche Level 2.

All Upcoming Dates and Locations:

  • January 23, 2025 - January 26, 2025 - Avalanche Level 2 Hut Trip - Peter Estin Hut, Colorado
  • February 7, 2025 - February 9, 2025 - Avalanche Level 2 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado
  • March 21, 2025 - March 23, 2025 - Avalanche Level 2 Hut Trip - Gould, Colorado

Student learning outcomes:

  • Tracking the season snowpack history and link it to relevant snowpack processes and avalanche conditions
  • Weather history, avalanche problems, and stability assessment – create a forecast without a public bulletin
  • Formation of persistent weak layers – facets, depth hoar, surface hoar
  • Wet snow metamorphism
  • Avalanche terrain – large & small scale features
  • Group management in challenging/complex terrain
  • Stability tests – incorporating strength, structure and propagation potential
  • Introduction to SWAG documentation
  • Tour planning
  • Use of the AAI Backcountry Avalanche Checklist as a field tool for sorting & prioritizing information
  • Human factor traps and solutions
  • Case studies with analysis using AAI Backcountry Avalanche Checklist

Prerequisites:

  • Avalanche Level 1 or equivalent Level 1 training is required.
  • Avalanche Rescue Course
  • This course can be taken on AT skis or splitboard. Participants must have experience on their setup prior to taking this course and be comfortable in steep blue to black terrain at the areas.

Preparation:

Who Should Take this Course:
The Avalanche Level 2 is a three-day course for those who have taken an Avalanche Level 1 and Avalanche Rescue and have had at least a year of backcountry travel experience. The Avalanche Level 2 provides backcountry leaders the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills, this course is also a great opportunity for Professionals to hone and refine skills and knowledge prior to taking their AAI Pro 1.

Time:

8am - 5pm

Duration:

3 Days, 3 Nights

Maximum Ratio:

6:1

Minimum Age:

Please call to register participants under 18
Experience Level

Advanced

Activity Level

Moderate

Category

Backcountry Skiing & Splitboarding

Duration

Multi-Day

Price Includes:

Price Excludes:

  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Lodging Outside of Hut Days
  • 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: 35-50 liter

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

1

CAMP M4 40L

Neptune Mountaineering

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
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
Laptop

Useful for navigation courses, including hiking and ski tour planning.

1 Optional
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
Slope Meter (Inclinometer)

Used to measure slope angle, this tool is a standard equipment item for any backcountry traveler in avalanche terrain.

1

BCA Slope Meter

Neptune Mountaineering

Optional
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
Snow Saw

For cutting columns during snowpack analysis

1

BCA 35cm Snow  Saw

Neptune Mountaineering

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
Softshell Pants

Softshell material is stretchy, wind-proof, water-resistant, and resists abrasion. Mid-weight is recommended and light-weight pants can work for warm days. Typical thin, nylon “hiking pants” are generally not tough enough.

1

Men: Rab Sawtooth Pants
Women: Rab Women’s Sawtooth Pants

Rab Store

Clothing
Sports Bra

Provides support and allows for full range of motion

1

North Face Beyond the Wall

Neptune Mountaineering

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

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.

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