Take your avalanche education to the next level with our one-of-a-kind hut trips! Our AIARE 2 Hut Trip run at various huts throughout Colorado. We’ll head into the hut, settle into basecamp, and spend three days and two nights covering AIARE 2 curriculum and exploring backcountry terrain.
Our team is made of experienced AIARE 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 AIARE 2 Hut Trip course combines classroom and field instruction.
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
- 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
- Variety of course offerings to meet our guests scheduling needs. Huts, Splits, 3-Day, Level 2’s
- Get avalanche training in the ski venue you ski in locally
- Fully sponsored by industry leaders Dynafit, Scarpa, Backcountry Access
- Full snow safety rental fleet
- Neptune Mountaineering ski shop support with rentals of ski equipment.
7:45 – Meet and greet at TBD trailhead – Fowler-Hilliard/ Peter Estin/ Willow Creek
- Waivers (10th Mountain, Colorado Mountain School)
- Equipment rentals if needed
- Gear checks (boots, puffy, food, avalanche equipment)
8:45 – Beacon Check & Approach to Hut ( approach times differ between huts )
10:00 – Hut Orientation
10:15 – Introduction
- Colorado Mountain School (who we are and what we do)
- AIARE (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)
11:15 – Companion Rescue Review – single & multiple burial scenarios
- Advanced marking functions
- Micro-strip vs. 3 circle method
- Group rescue response
- Triage, Evac
11:35 – Lunch Break
12:00 – Instructor led ski tour to gather observations ( Avy, Wx, Snpx )
3:00 – Return to Hut and Debrief Obs
3:20 – Human Factors, DMF; Case Study
- Intro to Human Factors (as reason for DMF)
- Case Study
4:45 – Debrief & Dinner Planning
7:00- 8:00 – Breakfast
8:00 – Overview of Upcoming Day; Review of Previous Day
8:10 – Avalanche Types, Character, and Problems of the day
- Types; Characters
- Define Problems along with typical problem traits (i.e. spatial
distribution, surface vs. deep, consequence/size, directly related
weather/season, trigger types, etc.)
- R scale; D scale
- Avalanche Motions
9:10 – Avalanche Terrain
- SEATTL acronym: Slope, Elevation, Aspect, Trigger
points, Terrain traps, Location within range
- Move outside to identify SEATTL components in the field
- Choose terrain exercise
10:00 – Avalanche Forecast & Online Observations
- Introduce Colorado Avalanche Information Center; online Wx resources
- Fill out field books
10:10 – Field Observations
- Advanced observations in the field: Avalanches, Weather, Snowpack
- Critical Red Flag Observations
- Pre-draw Pit Profile graphs in Field Book for stratigraphy
- Field Wx obs
10:40 – Field Obs Tour; Advanced snowpack tests
- Weather observations
- Hand shear, Shovel tilt, Shovel Shear
- Snow pit: layer identification, hand hardness, CT, point out a facet, point out a round, fracture character
& shear quality for CTs. Extended Column test, PST.
- Graph stratigraphy when identifying layers and hand hardness
- Travel wisely techniques
4:00 – Share Observations; Review; Q&A
- Share Obs: Avalanche, Weather, Snowpack; Stratigraphy
- Why do we dig pits
4:25 – Human Factors Case Study
- Introduction to heuristics / facets
- Brainstorm strategies to combat human factors
4:55 – Debrief & Dinner Prep
7:00-8:00 – Breakfast
8:00 – Plan
- Describe the steps of planning a tour (online obs, group goals,
choose destination, create run list/tour plan, emergency response)
8:30 – Field Group Planning
- Field group planning session
9:15 – Transition
- Pack personal gear; stash in building
- Hut Clean-up
10:00 – Student-Led Ski Tour
- Students lead the day – out in front, setting pace, making
- 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: students practice what
they’ve been shown, and show more when appropriate (1 at a time,
spread out, safe zone to safe zone, buddies in the trees, 5 second gaps,
spotters, stacking tracks, avoiding trigger points)
- Companion Rescue practice
- Debrief the day back at the hut.
3:00 – Course Debrief (at hut)
- 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?
- Resources: Mountain Hub, BCA website, CMS, CAIC, Front Range Ski
3:40 – Transition (Hut to Trailhead)
- Pack up
- Ski to trailhead
- Check in rental gear
4:45 – Course Close
Each AIARE 2 Hut trip offered has a separate meeting location in the nearest town prior to heading to the trailhead.
Two nights of lodging is included.
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 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.
The Willow Lodge Cabin is located beside the entrance of the State Forest State Park. This drive-up cabin, just off Highway 14, provides a bit more luxurious way of roughing it. It allows for a conveniently short approach to both comfortable, rustic lodging and stellar, alpine skiing.
Furnishing: Almost 1000 sq ft. Two queen beds in a private upstairs room, six queen beds bunk style (3 and 3), one single futon chair, a folding couch for two+ additional sleeping spots, kitchen table/chairs, solar lights and fully stocked cooking area. The cabin accommodates up to 20, has a giant deck with fire pit, and a double outhouse with water system.
Includes: Mattresses and pillows, propane, propane light, propane cooktop, wood burning stove, snow melt pot, all kitchen pots and pans, all kitchenware, limited paper towels, limited toilet paper, limited matches and newspaper, limited dish soap and sponges, kitchen towels, snow shovel, maul and axe, coffee percolator, fire extinguisher, outdoor charcoal grill (charcoal not included), outside food storage box, table and chairs, outhouse, and yurt journal.
Students are responsible for bedding, food, and water.
- Willow Lodge does not have running water or electricity.
All Upcoming Dates and Locations:
- No dates found