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Avalanche Level 2

  • Price:
  • Duration: 3 Days
(1 customer review)

Take the next step in avalanche education. Expand on information and techniques in this Avalanche Level 2 course and get a closer look at snow science and avalanche dynamics.

Colorado Mountain School (CMS) and the American Avalanche Institute (AAI) are historically the largest providers of avalanche training courses in the United States.  Beginning in 2023, with ownership in common, curriculum in common, and purpose in common, our programs will merge.  Colorado Mountain School will be teaching the American Avalanche Institute recreational curriculum, ending a long history as the largest AIARE course provider in the country.  Moving forward, CMS and AAI will deliver recreational and professional avalanche training courses proven over the last 40 years, approved by the American Avalanche Association (A3), and setting 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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Overview:

Avalanche Level 2 Course brought to you by:

American Avalanche Institute Logo

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

An instructor on an AIARE 2 course passes a slab of snow to a student so they can inspect the layer.In Avalanche Level 2, you’ll learn how to apply The AAI Backcountry Checklist, tour planning tools and assess hazard/exposure in complex terrain, new snow climates and/or areas where external avalanche observations and forecasts are not readily available. 

In this course, you’ll learn to manage uncertainty by identifying and managing gaps in information. We’ll describe and discuss weather, snowpack and avalanche processes, and identify how these processes relate to observations and travel within avalanche terrain. If your backcountry progression is taking you to huts or expeditions, or you’d like to be able to drill down past zone-level forecasts, Avalanche Level 2 is perfect for you. 

By completing this course with Colorado Mountain School, you will receive a certification from AAI and join the network of thousands of AAI Avalanche Level 2 training graduates.

Learn more about student learning outcomes in the “Curriculum” tab above.

Colorado Mountain School Transitions Away From AIARE Courses, Adopts American Avalanche Institute Curriculum

The once separate evolutions of avalanche training schools in the United States have finally merged. Colorado Mountain School and American Avalanche Institute are currently under common ownership, and their curricula, courses, and customer service are now fully coordinated as well. Notably, Colorado Mountain School will no longer teach AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) curriculum and courses. This bold move initiates a new evolution in avalanche training in the United States and brings an end to historic chapters for both organizations.

The American Avalanche Institute has been providing one the most successful professional and recreational avalanche training programs for the last 50 years. At the recreational and professional levels, their courses and curricula are fully approved by the American Avalanche Association (A3). Simultaneously, Colorado Mountain School (CMS) has been running the largest and most historic recreational avalanche training program in the country, using the curriculum created by AIARE. As of April 2023, CMS will no longer provide AIARE courses. Instead, CMS’ standard setting instructional staff, limitless terrain, and dynamic snowpack will be used to teach AAI’s proven and innovative avalanche courses.

This next chapter in the evolution of avalanche training is largely prompted by the combined ownership of AAI and CMS. With both organizations under one roof, a powerhouse alignment between curriculum design and program delivery will be available for all winter backcountry enthusiasts. Colorado Mountain School’s excellence has always been derived from an elite roster of guides and avalanche instructors, the boundless terrain in Colorado, and snow conditions that offer excellent travel and excellent training. Through the years CMS has educated more students than all other providers combined. Meanwhile, American Avalanche Institute has culled the expertise of snow scientists, guides, avalanche professionals, and educators to create the best recreational and professional avalanche courses in the world. They spent decades studying and teaching students about avalanches in the Tetons, Wasatch, and Sawtooth mountains. Today, in the fateful merger of our people, places, and powder, CMS and AAI combine our historic strength to offer something new and unique to the avalanche training landscape.

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

 

Field Day 1 – 8:00am – 4:00pm

  • Meet at trailhead
  • Morning hazard assessment meeting / trailhead check
  • Companion rescue review and practice (Single and Multiple Burial)
  • Instructor led tour to gather snow obs.
  • Instructor demo; Review of Seasonal Snowpack; Craftsmanship, Relevancy, and Verification of Snow Observations; Snowpack Tests in the Field.
  • Debrief observations in the field and return to trailhead. Post observations to local avalanche center

Field Day 2 – 8:00am – 4:00pm

  • Meet at trailhead
  • Student-led morning hazard discussion and tour plan (avalanches, snowpack, weather)
  • Student-led trailhead transceiver function check
  • 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 field observations

Field Day 3 – 8:00am – 4:00pm

  • Meet at trailhead
  • 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
  • Post-Trip Debrief and field observations
  • Course debrief and wrap-up, where to go from here

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:

Estes Park : 341 Moraine Ave

Field Sessions: at the trailhead, communicated ahead of time by your instructor

Lodging:

CMS Adventure Hostel 

Cameron Pass: There are a variety of cabins, vacation rentals and camping options available on / near Cameron Pass. Learn more about Cameron Pass and options for lodging near State Forest State Park.

Notes:

All of our courses can be run as custom outings.  If your group is interested in a custom avalanche training course, please call us at 720-387-8944.

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 winter backcountry adventures. 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 COVID-19 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:

  • No dates found

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.
  • AAI 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, or equivalent, and it is suggested that you have had at least a year of backcountry travel experience, though it is not required. The Avalanche Level 2 provides backcountry travelers the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills in new terrain and/or mountain ranges.

Time:

8am-5pm

Duration:

3 Days

Maximum Ratio:

6:1
Experience Level

Advanced

Activity Level

Moderate

Category

Avalanche Training

Duration

Multi-Day

Price Includes:

Price Excludes:

  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Clothing, backpack and non-technical personal items
  • Skiing / Splitboarding Equipment (Recommend Neptune Mountaineering)
  • Park Entrance Fees (where applicable)
  • Rescue Insurance / Fees
  • Trip Insurance
  • Gratuity
  • 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
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
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
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
Floatation (Skis, Snowboard, or Snowshoes)

Students are welcome to participate on snowshoes, skis, or Splitboard. Skis should have touring bindings; lightweight tech bindings are ideal. Splitboards are ideal for snowboarders. Snowboarders using resort snowboards will need to have snowshoes. All students will need poles.

1

Skis: Fischer Transalp 98 CTI
Bindings: Dynafit Radical

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

 

Neptune Mountaineering

Weston

Skis and Splitboards: Neptune Mountaineering
Snowshoes: Colorado Mountain School

Equipment
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
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
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
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
Snow Study Kit

Crystal card, magnifying lens, thermometers, 2 meter ruler

1

BCA Snow Study Kit

Neptune Mountaineering

Equipment
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
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 2

  1. trouche (verified owner)

    This is the 3rd course I’ve taken with CMS. The knowledge, teaching skill, and personality of the staff have made me a loyal customer. I guarantee anyone who takes a course with CMS will not be disappointed with their experience

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