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Level 1 Avalanche Course: Decision Making in Avy Terrain
Our 3 day AIARE Qualified Level 1 Avalanche Course provides a complete introduction to the avalanche phenomenon, avalanche terrain, decision making, and rescue protocol. This course fulfillls the requirements of an AIARE Level 1 Course and is 3 days long. The Level 1 course is part of an education stream which includes both a Level 2 and Level 3 progression. This is a comprehensive course for those new to travel in avalanche terrain. Highlights include a small class size, professional level curriculum, and skier/snowboarder oriented instruction. Participants in the Level 1 Course can expect a minimum of about 8 hours of classroom instruction and about 16 hours of field instruction in the following subjects:
- Types of avalanches
- Characteristics of avalanches
- How avalanches form and release
- Assessing avalanche terrain
- Trip planning and preparation
- Route Finding
- Decision making
- Rescue protocols and procedures
We meet at 8:00 am on the first day and spend a full day in the classroom learning terminology and general avalanche principles. The following two days are spent in the field between Coal Bank and Red Mountain Passes.
Interested in something different? Check out our Level 1 Hut Based Courses!!
The majority of our Level 1 Courses take place on Friday - Sunday. Please view our Trips Calendar to view which courses do not follow this general itinerary.
*If our scheduled courses do not fit your needs, we can also schedule private dates for groups of 4 or more.
"Your professionalism, personability, and overall excitement for the course was why I chose SWAG over a course in Ketchum ID. Great work!"
- Jody D.
Day 1: Classroom day. Meet at our office at 8:00 am to finalize course paperwork. The group will then begin the classroom portion of the class. This will serve as a complete introduction to the course. There will be a 1 hour lunch and the day will finish at approximately 5:00pm.
Day 2: Field session, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. Today we will spend the entire day in the field on Molas Pass. Topics covered will include test pit construction, beacon searching, companion rescue. Instructors will demonstrate each topic and then students will practice under observation.
Day 3: Field session, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm. Today we will complete a tour on Red Mountain Pass. Students will be asked to make decisions with regard to route finding, and terrain management. We'll select a slope to ski and assess the stability of the slope for descent purposes.
Trip Cost Includes: AIARE Qualified Instructors and AMGA Certified/Trained Guides. Level 1 course manual and completion certificate, and AIARE Field Book. Use of avalanche probe, shovel, and beacon. Transportation to and from the mountains from Durango.
Not Included: Hotel costs before, during or after the courses. 3% land use surcharge, trip cancellation insurance, personal climbing, skiing, or camping equipment, or gratuities. Touring boots, skis, and climbing skins are available for rent from our shop for an additional cost.
Prerequisites: Participants will need to have an established method of backcountry travel for field days (skis and skins, or snowshoes). These courses take place outside in winter conditions. All participants need to be prepared for physical exertion in cold and perhaps poor weather. Participants will need to have appropriate warm, winter clothing and gear.
Registration and Cancellation: You will need to fill out our Domestic Registration Form, cancellation policy agreement, and liability waiver, and send it to us with a 50% deposit. Balance is due on the first day of the course. Please click on our Registration link to access the required forms.