(970) 949-9111


Lift Acessed

You might call it lift-accessed, sidecountry or slackcountry. Skiing and snowboarding in the Colorado Rockies demands a thorough knowledge of avalanche risk, whether you’re skinning your way up a lone peak or accessing by ski lift. And no matter how you access the backcountry, appropriate terrain assessment and decision making skills are essential for managing risk.

This American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Level 1 avalanche course will take place via lift-access from Vail Mountain, exploring terrain through the backcountry access gates bordering the resort boundary. Avalanche education has never been so accessible in the Vail Valley!

AIARE provides the most widely taught avalanche education curriculum in the U.S. Be proactive about your well-being in the backcountry by expanding your knowledge and skill set through formal avalanche education.

AIARE 1 Courses


  • Nov 26-28, 2017 
  • Dec 8-10, 2017  
  • Dec 15-17, 2017  
  • Dec 22-24, 2017  
  • Dec 29-31, 2017
  • Jan 12-14, 2018 
  • Jan 19-21, 2018 
  • Jan 26-28, 2018   
  • Feb 2-4, 2018 Lift Acessed
  • Feb 6-8, 2018  Hut Based
  • Feb 9-11 , 2018  
  • Feb 16-18, 2018
  • Feb 23-25, 2018  
  • Feb 26 - 28, 2018 Hut Based
  • Mar 2-4, 2018   Lift Acessed
  • Mar 9-11, 2018  
  • Mar 16 -18, 2018 Lift Acessed
  • Mar 23 - 25, 2018  
  • Mar 30-Apr 1, 2018  
  • Apr 6-8, 2018
  • Apr 13-15, 2018

Winter travel in the Colorado Rockies demands a thorough knowledge of avalanche risk to appropriately assess and manage terrain. The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) provides world-class education through the only internationally recognized curriculum offered in the U.S. Promote your well-being in the backcountry by expanding your knowledge and skill set through formal avalanche education. In our 3 day, 24 hour AIARE level 1 course, our curriculum focuses on the fundamentals of:

  • the characteristics and types of avalanches
  • movement of avalanches
  • classifications by size and danger scale
  • mountain snowpack: metamorphism and layering

We’ll also discuss:

  • trip planning and preparation
  • risk management and decision-making
  • human influence in group dynamics, decision-making and accidents

Following classroom sessions, we’ll travel by backcountry ski, split board and snowshoe, and apply these learned foundations in a mountain now environment, with a focus on:

  • Beacon and probe use
  • Identifying and evaluating avalanche terrain
  • Route-finding and travel techniques
  • Snow pit and snow layer analysis and tests
  • What questions to ask in risk evaluation
  • Identifying “red flags”
  • Avalanche rescue and beacon search techniques
Prerequisites: Participants should be prepared to travel in backcountry terrain (by ski or split board, snowshoe if no other option) in potentially inclement weather and mountainous conditions at altitude. Advanced reservations are required. Some personal items provided by participant(s); see the gear list tab above. Register at the Book It button above, call (970) 949-9111 or use our contact page.

What to bring:

  • Beacon/probe/shovel (rental available)
  • Clinometer (BCA slope meter, also available on compasses)
  • Complete ski, split board or snowshoe equipment, including boots, poles, etc
  • *No cotton – cotton does not wick moisture or insulate when wet.
  • Synthetic or wool long underwear bottom (thin)
  • Synthetic or wool long sleeve top (medium)
  • Synthetic or wool socks
  • Ground mat (insulation so you can sit on snow)
  • Water/wind proof jacket with hood, pants, and gloves
  • Notebook (for lecture day)
  • Any other items you would typically have in your pack on a backcountry trip
  • Warm gloves or mittens
  • Hat and neck gaiter or balaclava
  • Goggles or sunglasses
  • Small day pack
  • Water bottle and food
  • Headlamp and batteries

Also Recommended:

  • Loupe (at least 10x zoom)
  • Snow Saw (minimum 30cm)
  • Snow crystal card

You may also consider:

  • Hand warmers
  • Hot liquid
  • Liner socks
  • Adjustable Poles
  • Extra gloves
  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle insulator