Learn how to make better decisions in avalanche terrain with the Colorado Mountain School. We teach a complete program of curriculum established by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) and are the world’s largest and most experienced AIARE provider.
The AIARE 1 is a three-day / 24-hour introduction to avalanche hazard management.
Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a backcountry 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).
Our instructor team is made of experienced AIARE instructors and professional mountain guides with decades of experience in avalanche terrain, from the Alps to Alaska to right here in Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the country’s premier winter adventure destinations. In addition to classroom work, our course includes field instruction each day. Field instruction provides a well-rounded education to backcountry decision-making, trip planning, terrain selection, and companion rescue techniques. This course provides essential training for anyone traveling in avalanche terrain. We allow participants to take this course on backcountry skis, split board, or snowshoes. With a maximum ratio of six students per instructor, we exceed AIARE minimum standards to provide the highest level of instruction.
10 Things you’ll learn about traveling in avalanche terrain:
- Types of avalanches and their characteristics
- How avalanches form and release
- Primary start-zone factors
- Identifying avalanche terrain
- Ways to spot and avoid common trigger points
- Trip planning, preparation, and navigation
- Travel techniques
- Group decision-making skills
- Avalanche rescue techniques
- Weather, terrain, and snowpack considerations
This course can be taken on snowshoes, skis, splitboard, or snowboard. Participants on alpine touring rigs must have experience on their setup prior to taking this course. Snowshoes are available for rent upon request. Students on skis or boards must be comfortable in steep blue to black terrain at the areas.
Who Should Take this Course
The AIARE 1 is for anyone, regardless of method of travel, who wants to recreate in or near avalanche terrain. Participants may have attended some awareness classes or workshops or completed the Avalanche Rescue course, but none are a prerequisite for this course.
Aspiring professionals will need to take the AIARE 1 and Avalanche Rescue as a prerequisite for the Pro 1 course.
Price includes & Excludes:
- AIARE Certified Course Leader and Instructor/s
- Digital AIARE Course Manual
- AIARE Field Book
- BCA Slope Meter
- CMS Golf Pencil
- AIARE Certificate of Completion provided by AIARE
- Rocky Mountain National Park Entrance Fees
- Hut Fees
- Avalanche Equipment
- Clothing, backpack and non-technical personal items
- Skiing Equipment (Recommend Neptune Mountaineering)
- Non Rocky Mountain National Park Entrance Fees
- Rescue Insurance
- Trip Insurance
- Expenses due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of Colorado Mountain School
Reasons Why CMS AIARE Courses Are Worth It!
- CMS is the countries largest AIARE Provider for a reason!
- 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
- Our Instructors are career guides, with decades of personal experience
- Our Instructors are AMGA Ski Guide trained or Certified
- We have a full-time office staff to answer all of your questions
- We supply our students with their own slope meter
- Variety of course offerings to meet our guests scheduling needs. Huts (Berthoud), Splits, CMS, Summit, Aspen L2's
- Get avalanche training in the ski venue you ski in locally.
- Fully sponsored by industry leaders Dynafit, Scarpa, BCA.
- Full snow safety rental fleet.
- Neptune ski shop support with rentals of ski equip.
Day 1: Rescue & Basics
8:00 Intro to CMS, AIARE, & Course Logistics
8:40 Companion Rescue Briefing
9:00 Transition to Field Briefing
9:30 Companion Rescue Field Session
1:30 Rescue Debrief
2:00 Human Factors
2:30 Decision Making/DMF & Case Study
3:25 Avalanche Types and Characteristics
4:45 Homework/ Next Day Briefing
Day 2: Observations
8:30 Making Field Observations
8:50 Forecast/Intro to the Avalanche Problem
9:20 Transition to Field Briefing
9:45 Field Session (Observations - Avalanche/Weather/Snowpack)
2:45 Formation of Layers & Debrief Observations
3:55 Avalanche Terrain
Day 3 – Tour
8:00 Debrief Case Study
8:20 Choose Terrain/Travel Wisely
9:05 Tour Planning
9:45 Transition to Field/Making Decisions in Avalanche Terrain/ Group Communication/ Rescue Practice
4:00 Course Close/ Next Steps
With a sixteen-bed lodge available, Colorado Mountain School provides students the opportunity to spend their entire stay in Estes Park without the hassle of commuting. Our lodge is conveniently located in downtown Estes Park and features a full kitchen, WiFi and hot showers. Reserve a bed now for just $40 per night (plus tax).
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 800-836-4008.
At the end of the AIARE 1 course the student should be able to:
- Develop a plan for travel in avalanche terrain.
- Demonstrate the ability to identify avalanche terrain.
- Effectively use the AIARE Decision Making Framework to make terrain choices in a group setting
- Demonstrate effective companion rescue.