AIARE 1 Avalanche Training:
A 24-hour introduction to avalanche hazard management

AIARE | The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education

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.

Students on AIARE 1 avalanche safety course button up their layers as head into the field to learn how to travel safely in avalanche terrain.

You can expect to develop a solid foundation in how to prepare for and carry out a backcountry trip, understanding basic decision making while in the field, and avalanche rescue techniques required to locate and dig up a buried person.  

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

This course provides essential training for anyone traveling in or near avalanche terrain: snowboarders, ski tourers, snowmobilers, mountaineers, snowshoers, everyone!  For aspiring professionals, this course fulfills a prerequisite for the AIARE Pro 1 course down the line.

By completing this course with Colorado Mountain School, you will receive a certification from AIARE and join a network of tens of thousands of AIARE 1 avalanche training graduates.

All AIARE 1 students gain access to our season-long avalanche education membership: The Snow Pack.  The Snow Pack consists of three elements: AIARE coursework, bonus education, and student perks.

Snow Pack Logo

Learn more about the Snow Pack membership.


Why Our AIARE Courses Are Worth It:

  • Colorado Mountain School is the country’s 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
  • 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 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
  • Discounts on select courses, guided ski tours and lodging partners through the included Snow Pack membership

Sample Itinerary:

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

The first portion of your course includes an online course and group video discussions.  The majority of your course will take place in the mountains. 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 simultaneously allow intimate instruction and the ability to spread out.  Here’s a preview itinerary of what your course could look like:

Self-Paced – e-Learning: Avalanche Basics

Self-paced online learning that must be completed prior to field days. 

  • Lesson 1: Intro to Colorado Mountain School, AIARE, & Course Logistics
  • Lesson 2: Track the Season’s Conditions
  • Lesson 3: Identifying Avalanche Terrain
  • Lesson 4: Avalanche Rescue Prep
  • Lesson 5: Teamwork in Avalanche Terrain

Evening 1 – 7:00pm – 8:15pm:  Video Meeting

  • 7:00pm – 7:15pm: Students log in, Welcome, and Introductions
  • 7:15pm – 7:20pm: Check in on e-Learning progress, review course itinerary, Q&A
  • 7:20pm – 8:00pm: Case study or tour planning exercise
  • 8:00pm – 8:15pm: Wrap it up: Assign homework

Evening 2 – 7:00pm – 8:15pm: Video Meeting

  • 7:00pm – 7:15pm: Welcome back, review itinerary 
  • 7:15pm – 7:30pm: Review homework / case study discussion
  • 7:30pm – 8:00pm: Mountain weather discussion
  • 8:00pm – 8:15pm: Gear prep for field

Field Day 1 – 8:00am – 4:00pm

  • 7:30am – 8:00am: Meet at trailhead, rental gear check out, hand out AIARE field books and Friends of CAIC Trailhead Membership
  • 8:00am – 8:30am: Trailhead transceiver function check
  • 8:30am – 11:30am: Companion rescue practice
  • 11:30am – 12:00pm: Transition to instructor led tour and snowpack observations
  • 12:00pm – 3:30pm: Terrain tour (ATES) and relevant snowpack observation
  • 3:30pm – 4:00pm: Debrief observations in the field and return to trailhead

Field Day 2 – 8:00am – 4:00pm

  • 7:30am – 8:00am: Meet at trailhead
  • 8:00am – 8:15am: Morning discussion (avalanches, snowpack, weather)
  • 8:15am – 8:30am: Trailhead transceiver function check
  • 9:00am – 2:00pm: Student/Instructor-led tour: Terrain Identification, recording observations in field books, snowpack tests / observations, weather observations, review companion rescue
  • 2:00pm – 2:30pm: Debrief your pod in the field
  • 2:30pm – 3:30pm: Return to trailhead
  • 3:30pm – 4:00pm:  Hand in rental gear, course wrap up & next steps

To help us spread out pods, you and your pod will go out on two of the three days of any given course dates. For example, if you enroll in a course scheduled to start on a Friday, you may go out Friday/Saturday, Friday/Sunday or Saturday/Sunday. Field days will be communicated a few weeks beforehand.

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:

Meeting locations vary by course. Your instructor will coordinate exact meeting location with students prior to course start.


Estes Park: Fall River Village – a beautiful lodge just a five minute walk from downtown Estes Park. They are offering Colorado Mountain School students a discount on their Longs Peak Cottage floor plan. Please contact us to redeem.

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.


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.

All Upcoming Dates and Locations:

  • November 27, 2020 - November 29, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Cameron Pass, Colorado
  • November 27, 2020 - November 29, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • November 30, 2020 - December 2, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Frisco, Colorado
  • November 30, 2020 - December 2, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • December 4, 2020 - December 6, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Cameron Pass, Colorado
  • December 4, 2020 - December 6, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Frisco, Colorado
  • December 4, 2020 - December 6, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • December 7, 2020 - December 10, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Frisco, Colorado
  • December 11, 2020 - December 13, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Cameron Pass, Colorado
  • December 18, 2020 - December 20, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • December 7, 2020 - December 9, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • December 11, 2020 - December 13, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • December 18, 2020 - December 20, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Georgetown, Colorado
  • December 18, 2020 - December 20, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Cameron Pass, Colorado
  • December 14, 2020 - December 16, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • January 8, 2021 - January 10, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Cameron Pass, Colorado
  • December 14, 2020 - December 16, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Frisco, Colorado
  • December 21, 2020 - December 23, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • December 26, 2020 - December 28, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • December 29, 2020 - December 31, 2020 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • February 13, 2021 - February 15, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Cameron Pass, Colorado
  • January 4, 2021 - January 6, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • January 16, 2021 - January 18, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Frisco, Colorado
  • February 13, 2021 - February 15, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Georgetown, Colorado
  • January 16, 2021 - January 18, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • January 8, 2021 - January 10, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • January 25, 2021 - January 27, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • January 1, 2021 - January 3, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • January 11, 2021 - January 13, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • January 1, 2021 - January 3, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • January 16, 2021 - January 18, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Cameron Pass, Colorado
  • February 13, 2021 - February 15, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • January 22, 2021 - January 24, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • February 19, 2021 - February 21, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • January 22, 2021 - January 24, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Cameron Pass, Colorado
  • February 5, 2021 - February 7, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • February 22, 2021 - February 24, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • February 26, 2021 - February 28, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • March 12, 2021 - March 14, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Cmaeron Pass, Colorado
  • January 29, 2021 - January 31, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • March 5, 2021 - March 7, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Georgetown, Colorado
  • March 5, 2021 - March 7, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • March 8, 2021 - March 10, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • March 12, 2021 - March 14, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • March 19, 2021 - March 21, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • March 26, 2021 - March 28, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • April 2, 2021 - April 4, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • April 9, 2021 - April 11, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Frisco, Colorado
  • April 9, 2021 - April 11, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • April 12, 2021 - April 14, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado
  • April 16, 2021 - April 18, 2021 - AIARE 1 Three-Day Course - Estes Park, Colorado

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.

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.


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.


8:00am to 5:00pm

Maximum Ratio:


Minimum Age:

Please call to register participants under 18
Experience Level


Activity Level



Avalanche Training



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.


BCA Tracker 2 or 3


Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Avalanche Probe

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


BCA Stealth 300

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Avalanche Rescue Shovel

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


BCA B1 Ext

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

Backpack: 20-40 liter

Packs smaller than this tend not to be able to carry the necessary amount of equipment and clothing. Large backpacking packs are acceptable, depending on the climb.



Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School

Baselayer Bottoms

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


Men: Rab Forge Leggings
Women: Rab Forge Leggings


Beanie or Fleece Hat

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


Rab Logo Beanie

Neptune Mountaineering

Climbing Skins

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


Dynafit Speedskin

Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune Mountaineering


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


Silva Ranger CLQ

Neptune Mountaineering

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.


Neptune Mountaineering

Floatation (Skis, Snowboard, or Snowshoes)

Students are welcome to participate on snowshoes, 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. All students will need poles.


Dynafit Beast 98; Dynafit ST Radical 100

Neptune Mountaineering

Skis & Splitboards: Neptune Mountaineering
Snowshoes: Colorado Mountain School


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.


Made in Nature, Thrive Tribe

Neptune Mountaineering


Protect your eyes and face from wind and sun burn.


Julbo Airflux

Neptune Mountaineering

Hardshell Pants

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


Men: Rab Sharp Edge Pants
Women: Rab Women's Kangri GTX Pants

Rab Stores


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


Neptune Mountaineering

Heavyweight Waterproof Glove

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


RAB Storm Glove

Rab Store

Hot Drinks

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


Cusa Tea; Alpine Start Coffee

Neptune Mountaineering


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.


Men: Rab Forge LS Tee
Women: Rab Force LS Tee

Rab Store

Lightweight Gloves

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


RAB Power Stretch Pro

Rab Store

Lip ScreenSPF 15 or higher.

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


Rocky Mountain Sunscreen Lip Balm

Neptune Mountaineering

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.


Men: Rab Nucleus Hoody
Women: Rab Nucleus Hoody

Neptune Mountaineering

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.


RAB Guide2 GTX Glove

Neptune Mountaineering

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.


CMS Neck Gaiter

Neptune Mountaineering

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.


Neptune Mountaineering

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.


Camp Speed Comp

Neptune Mountaineering

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.


Scarpa Maestrale RS

Neptune Mountaineering

Neptune Mountaineering

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.


BCA Scepter

Neptune Mountaineering

Colorado Mountain School; Neptune Mountaineering

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.


BCA Ski Strap

Neptune Mountaineering

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.


Avanet; Gaia Maps; Topo Maps


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.


Men: Rab Salvo Jacket
Women: Rab Salvo Jacket

Neptune Mountaineering

Sports Bra

Provides support and allows for full range of motion


North Face Beyond the Wall

Neptune Mountaineering

Sun Hat

A billed hat to keep the sun at bay during the approach and descent.


Neptune Mountaineering


"Wrap-Around" style sunglasses with 100% UV Protection.


Julbo Shield

Neptune Mountaineering

SunscreenSPF 30 or higher.

Travel size.


Rocky Mountain Sunscreen SPF 50

Neptune Mountaineering

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.


Men: Rab Electron Jacket
Women: Rab Electron Jacket

Neptune Mountaineering

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.


Point 6 Hiking Light Crew

Neptune Mountaineering


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


Neptune Mountaineering

Toe Warmers and Hand Heaters

Help keep you warm on particularly cold days.


Neptune Mountaineering

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.


Nalgene, Hydro Flask

Neptune Mountaineering

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.


Men: RAB Ladakh GTX Jacket
Women: RAB Women's Kangri GRX Jacket

Neptune Mountaineering



Q: Do I need prior backcountry experience to participate in AIARE 1?

A: No! If you are planning on taking the course on snowshoes, you do not need any prior experience. If you are joining us on a ski or splitboard touring setup, we ask that you have prior experience touring so that you can focus on getting the most out of your avalanche training, and not about your gear / movement. Our Intro to Backcountry Skiing & Splitboarding course is a great option to get you up to speed quickly if you’re starting out.

Q: What level skier / rider should I be for the AIARE 1 course?

A: If you are hoping to take your AIARE course on a ski or splitboard touring setup, you’ll need to be skiing or riding at an intermediate to advanced level. You’ll have an opportunity to discuss your experience with your instructor prior to your field sessions. If you or instructor decide that traveling on snowshoes will better your learning experience, they will be provided at no charge.

Q: Is there a best time to take my avalanche training course?

A: Anytime there is snow coverage in the mountains! Historically, the most popular time is early season (November-January) so you can get your training in and have a long season of backcountry adventures ahead of you. Some people prefer to wait until later in the season to get their ski legs and to have higher snow totals in the backcountry, which can open up more venues during the course. Both options are great and the curriculum and certification is the same. If you have the flexibility, weekdays and courses later in the season may be less expensive due to off-peak demand — they also often have the added benefit of off-peak crowds in the mountains.

Q: My first preference in course dates/locations isn’t available. What are the chances of getting a spot if I get on the waitlist?

A: When a spot opens up on a sold out course, we contact everyone on the waitlist and it is first come, first served. Early season waitlists are often dozens of people, so the chances of getting a spot that opens up can sometimes be slim. We recommend you register for your next best choice and get on the waitlist to keep an eye out for transfer opportunities. There are no fees to transfer into a course that you’re waitlisted for.


Q: Do I need to bring/purchase my own avalanche equipment before the course? 

A: No. We can outfit you with a beacon, shovel, and probe from Backcountry Access to use on your course, free of charge. When you fill out your pre-course survey a few weeks before your course, please let us know if you will need this equipment.

Q: Do you rent backcountry skis, splitboards or snowshoes?

A: We have a limited number of snowshoes available upon request. Due to the large variety of sizes for backcountry equipment, we do not rent skis or splitboards. We recommend a pair of Dynafit skis or Weston Splitboards from Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder.

Q: Do you have recommendations on equipment that I should get for the course?

A: Yes! The AIARE 1 page has an equipment list tab that has a ton of gear recommendations from our guides. Keep in mind that this list is exhaustive to cover a variety of conditions. If you still have questions about equipment after reading our recommendations, please contact the guides in our office and we’d be happy to chat gear.

For purchasing, we recommend the wonderful folks at Neptune Mountaineering. Please consider the following brands for specific needs.

Technical Outerwear: Rab
Ski Boots: SCARPA
Skis: Dynafit
Snow Safety: BCA

Course Preparation & Online Learning

Q: Will there be any classroom work?

A: All classroom work will be online for the 2020/21 season. Each student will get access to an online portal which will give them access to a variety of course work and more. 

Q: How do I access online learning?

A: If you’re already enrolled, you can start learning immediately by signing into your Colorado Mountain School account using the email address you registered with. Once logged in, you’ll find links to “Online Courses” to start your AIARE 1 coursework, or “Membership Resources” to get access to additional education and community resources.

Q: I registered another person. How do they access online learning?

If you enrolled another person, we will need their contact information to provide membership access. Please contact our Service Team (service@coloradomountainschool.com) to get them registered with an online account and a membership.

Field Logistics

Q: Do you have any recommendations for where to stay during the course?

A: Yes! Please check out the lodging recommendations on our AIARE 1 web page.

Q: Will I be able to group up with my Friends or Family during the course?

A: Yes! When filling out our pre-course survey (sent a few weeks before your course), please provide the names of the participants you are signing up / or want to tour with.

Q: Is transportation provided? 

A: No. Each participant is required to provide their own transportation each day. This includes driving to and from the trailhead or any meeting location for the course. 

Q: Will I be able to carpool with my AIARE pod to our field days?

A: Due to current COVID-19 conditions, we do not encourage you to carpool with members outside of your household. Instructors are not allowed to carpool with students during this time. 

Q: Will I need to pay a fee to enter any parks?

A: Yes, some venues, such as State and National Parks, require all users pay an entrance fee. These include, but are not limited to, RMNP ($25) and State Forest State Park (Cameron Pass, $9). Clients are responsible for their own entrance fees. You can also purchase a National Parks pass for $80 that will get you into any National Park for the whole year, but may not be eligible for State Parks (depends on the park).

Q: How long are the field sessions? 

A: Field sessions can be anywhere from 3-6 hours in length depending on weather.

Self Care

Q : Is lunch provided? Or do we have to bring our own food?  

A: Lunch is not provided. You are responsible for food and water during your course, and should arrive packed and ready to start your day. An average student may consume a total of 1200-1500 calories per day. This can be in the form or your favorite bars, nut mix, jerky, sandwiches, burritos, etc. Make sure you are hydrated for a full day moving in the mountains. We recommend 2L of water (at minimum). A lightweight thermos with a hot beverage can go a long way in cold temps!

Q : What should I wear? 

A: We recommend bringing multiple clothing layers so you can layer up or layer down, depending on the weather and level of heat you are generating. There will be times that we’ll be generating heat by touring through the mountains or digging for avalanche rescue drills. You may want to delayer before doing aerobic exercise like this to avoid a future cold sweat. Other times, we will stop and sit in the snow (think snow pits). During these times, it is important to layer up and maintain our heat that we just generated. Having flexibility in your layering system allows you to adapt throughout the day. See our AIARE 1 equipment list tab for recommendations.

Q: How is COVID-19 going to be managed during my AIARE course?

A: As professional risk managers, we take the wellbeing of our guides and clients very seriously. We will primarily manage risk of COVID-19 through pre-course screenings, physical distancing, mask wearing and good hygiene. Please see our full COVID-19 FAQ for more info.

Q: Will I be able to go to the bathroom during the course?

A: It’s important to plan appropriately. It’s best to hit the bathroom before leaving for the trailhead as not all trailheads have facilities. If there is a bathroom at the trailhead, take advantage of it; you may not see another one for up to six hours. We recommend you have a Wag Bag (sort of like a dog bag for humans) for emergencies. In preparation for your trip, please review Leave No Trace principles to learn how you can help protect our environment.


Q: Is it appropriate to tip the guides?

A: Guiding is a service-oriented profession and a gratuity for a job well done is recommended and greatly appreciated! If you are unsure about how much is appropriate, a rule-of-thumb is to think about what you’d tip at a restaurant for quality service.

3 reviews for AIARE 1 Three-Day Course

  1. Brandon Hill

    I want to thank you for all your help leading up to our courses last week. You made sure the whole process was fluid. I also want to let you guys and Mr Russel know that I had an amazing time this past five days. From the hostel stay, to Buster teaching me to work my slidey sticks (Wes’ name for them) uphill to the AIARE class. The four guides that taught that class are a special group of people and I am very grateful for that. Karin, well, just badass…so engaging while speaking, made the whole class a blast to be a part of it, this woman has such a wealth of knowledge and the passion she has for sharing that shows through in the best of ways. Everett, I wasn’t exactly sure about him in the first few hours of class, but quickly found out that I think he likes that!!! E was such a good teacher in the field, I was right at home in the snow pit geeking out snow science with him, this dude knows his stuff and just like Karin, wants to share it with whomever asks. Ed….ol Ed…I did not have the pleasure of getting Ed in the field this go around, but while he was teaching in class, he has a way of making his point stick, very good instructor in class. Last but absolutely not least there’s my man, Wes…Wes is exactly the perfect ingredient to the mix. Stone cold serious about the course content, but super FUN while doing it. You know when this guy is being serious, but he keeps it light and entertaining, another good science geek time in the pit with W. I cannot stress how happy I am with the course we took. This mix of people just absolutely hit home with me, and I am certain the rest of my classmates would agree, the whole class was involved, the way it should be…. This is such serious and heavy content to be learning and taking in, and these four amazing individuals made it so that I could enjoy the whole process as opposed to be being just hit over the head with it all weekend. My friend Matthew and I both left feeling EMPOWERED thank you again for everything and we will absolutely be back for more instruction from this school!!!

  2. Eric Stanfield (verified owner)

    This is a great course, and well worth the investment of your money and time.

    The group sizes are kept to 6 students per instructor, and you rotate through the instructors over the 3 day course. I spent days with Andy Hansen, Japhy Dhungana, and Everett Phillips. Three different personalities and styles, but each serious about the material and enthusiastic about educating the students. They were also accommodating to individual student comfort level and capabilities – don’t think you have to be on skis or that you need to show up with years of backcountry experience under your belt. We had folks on snowshoes and a few split-boarders among all the skiers.

    Indoor classroom facilities in Estes were good, and there is ample room for gearing up when it’s time to go outside. Rocky Mountain National Park is your ‘outside’ classroom – what more needs to be said?

    If you spend time in the backcountry during snow season, do yourself a favor and take the course. I plan to return for the rescue 1 day course, and (eventually) AIARE2.

  3. Greg Keene (verified owner)

    A fantastic course! The instructors fulfilled every aspect that I wanted to learn and a lot more. I now have an understanding of how to plan a tour in the back country safely and how to avoid the risky areas. Well presented and highly entertaining! Highly recommended.

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