Lift Accessed Backcountry AIARE Level 1

Learn AIARE Level 1 decision-making skills for backcountry evaluation and backcountry travel via lift access on Vail Mountain with the Vail Valley’s #1 Recommended Apex Mountain School.



9-9.5 hours a day for 3 days


  • Edwards Classroom Session
  • Lift Accessed Backcountry via Vail Mountain


  • Cost is for full course. Max ratio 1 guide to 7 clients
  • 450 per person
  • Private class: $2695 + lift ticket(s) for up to 6 people.
  • Price does not include lift ticket. Pre-purchase lift tickets through Apex at a discounted price. Ski access passes may be used.


Two of Five

Experience Level

Intermediate to Advanced

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.

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 discuss:

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

Following classroom sessions, we’ll explore Vail Mountain and apply these learned foundations in a mountain snow environment, with a focus on:

  • Identifying and evaluating avalanche terrain
  • Route-finding and travel techniques
  • How does sidecountry/backcountry access via Backcountry Access Gate affect my observation skills and decision-making process?
  • Snow pit and snow layer analysis and tests
  • What questions to ask in risk evaluation
  • Identifying “red flags”
  • Avalanche rescue and beacon search techniques

Wherever you go for your avalanche training, accept no substitute for the standard in course curriculum, Apex’s AIARE avalanche courses.


Participants should be of at least an intermediate skiing/boarding ability level and be prepared to travel in backcountry terrain in potentially inclement weather and mountainous conditions at altitude. This course is designed to be taken on downhill ski and snowboard equipment, with some hiking and traversing; splitboard/AT equipment with skins will make travel easier.

Included in course:

AIARE certified course instructor, course manual, avalanche field book, and certificate of completion.

            *Lift ticket or season pass required and not included. You may pre-purchase lift tickets through Apex at a discounted rate of $63 per daily ticket.

Ready to sign up? Register at the Book It tab above and an Apex representative will contact you shortly to confirm your reservation. You may also call (970) 949-9111 or use our contact page.


What to bring:

  • Avalanche gear: beacon, shovel and probe (Apex rents for $10 each per day)
  • Ski or boarding equipment, including boots, poles, etc
  • Clinometer (BCA slope meter, also available on compasses)
  • Compass
  • *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
  • 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:

  • Complete ski, split board or snowshoe equipment, including boots, poles, etc
  • Ground mat (insulation so you can sit on snow)
  • Hand warmers
  • Hot liquid
  • Liner socks
  • Adjustable Poles
  • Extra gloves
  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle insulator

Participant Forms:

If you wish to complete your participant forms in advance, download and print out the pdf below. Complete both pages for each participant, and give to your guide at the beginning of your trip.

Participant Forms

Click the button below to view our terms, conditions and cancellation policy.


Private courses also available by calling (970) 949 – 9111.