AIARE Level 1 Backcountry FLEX

AIARE Level 1
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Have you put off taking your Apex AIARE Level 1 course because you couldn’t get a Friday off from work? This Apex AIARE Level 1 FLEX course offers an alternative. Our beginner backcountry ski outing is also an excellent supplement for preparing for this course.

The Apex Mountain School AIARE Level 1 Backcountry FLEX Course offers you the best in avalanche education with an accessible schedule. As a member of a tourism based local community, Apex is proud to do its part in promoting social distancing, in an effort to slow the spread on COVID-19The Apex AIARE Level 1 FLEX still includes two days of infield practical application but now with all classroom instruction taking place remotely.  

Participants will meet with their instructor(s) virtually, via an online platform, on Tuesday and Thursday or Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 9:00pm prior to their weekend field days. During these 3-hour sessions students will have the opportunity to view interactive diagram explanations, work on small group activities, and ask questions. Participants are expected to complete a series of pre-course e-learning modules provided by AIARE (details provided after booking) and evening assignments during the course. 

Interested in an Avalanche Rescue Course but worried about social distancing? The one-day Apex Avalanche Rescue Course is 100% Field Based with no classroom time.



All ages 12 and up

Students should be prepared to travel in backcountry terrain by ski or splitboard (or snowshoe, if no other option). The course takes place in mountainous terrain, at altitude. Apex encourages students  to come prepared for all mountain weather conditions. New to the backcountry and want to sharpen your skills before the course? We offer a Vail Backcountry Skiing private outing, where you’ll work with your guide on uphill and downhill travel techniques, transitions and navigating a backcountry environment.

Course registration is required.  Private AIARE Level 1 courses with Apex are also available  



Ready to start your avalanche education? Our guides are excited to work with you. Register on this page with the accompanying calendar. For more information, please visit our Contact Page

All ages 12 and up




Throughout a 27 hour Apex AIARE Level 1 FLEX course, consisting of 2 virtual class sessions and 2 field days, the course will focus on the following natural elements: 

  • The characteristics and types of avalanches 
  • Movement of avalanches 
  • Classifications by size and danger scale 
  • Mountain snowpack: metamorphism and layering 
  • Heuristics or Human Factors and group management
  • Mapping, time management, route finding and navigation, as well as the latest standardized electronic tools and data/planning sites
  • Using the AIARE field book
  • Companion Rescue
  • and more



  • How our behavior can effect our interaction with the backcountry 
  • Trip planning and preparation 
  • Risk management and decision-making 
  • Human influence in: 
    • Group dynamics 
    • Decision-making 
    • Accidents  

 The topics listed above will first be discussed during the virtual evening class sessions then applied in person on the weekend field days.  



The field days topics will include:  

  • Trip planning and prep
  • Beacon, shovel and probe use
  • Avalanche rescue, beacon search and strategic shoveling
  • Identifying and evaluating avalanche terrain 
  • Route-finding, terrain management and travel techniques
  • Group management
  • Snow pit and snow layer analysis and tests 
  • Questions to ask in risk evaluation 
  • Identifying “red flags” 
  • and more


AIARE Level 1 Backcountry FLEX – Quick Info

Learn the decision-making skills necessary to evaluate avalanche terrain and be an informed backcountry traveler with the new Apex FLEXible schedule. 

Did you know? You can also attend the Friday classroom session on our traditional AIARE Level 1 course remotely!

All ages 12 and up

2022-23 DATES Coming Soon

Online classes Tuesday & Thursday or Monday & Wednesday evenings, 6pm-9pm 

Infield practical Saturday 8am-5:30pm & Sunday 8am-5pm 

*Start and end times are approximate.



Course – $565


  • Student Manual 
  • AIARE Field Book 
  • Apex Mountain School Buff 
  • SANS meal Bar 
  • Remote Session Class Days, Tuesday and Thursday, 6pm-9pm 
  • 2 Full Field Days, 8am-430pm 
  • AIARE Certificate of Completion 




Easy – Moderate



~4-hour online e-learning module 

Two, 3-hour, remote evening sessions 

Two, 8.5-hour, field days 

Total Time ~ 27 hours* 

*Total Course Time includes pre-course e-learning module  


Vail Valley, Vail Pass or Fremont Pass 


*Courses run regardless of snow/weather conditions*


  • 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.
  • Long underwear bottom (thin) – synthetic or wool
  • Long sleeve top (medium) – synthetic or wool
  • Socks – synthetic or wool
  • Ground mat (insulation so you can sit on snow)
  • Water/wind proof jacket with hood, pants, and gloves
  • Notebook (for lecture day)
  • Warm gloves or mittens
  • Hat and neck gaiter or balaclava
  • Goggles or sunglasses
  • Small day pack
  • Water bottle and food
  • Headlamp and batteries
  • Any other items you would typically have in your pack on a backcountry trip


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


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

When Federally, Statewide, or Locally mandated and/or recommended, or when deemed appropriate by Apex staff, all students will be required to wear a COVID-appropriate face covering at all times.

Don't see a date you are looking for? Be sure to check out our traditional AIARE Level 1 Backcountry Course for additional course dates, or request a Private Course date.

We currently do not have an AIARE Level 1 Flex course scheduled for the remainder of the 2021/22 winter season. For open course dates please look at our AIARE Level 1 Traditional or to setup a course that is tailored to your schedule, checkout our AIARE Private Course.

Scott and Jill were an awesome team loaded with knowledge. They new how to convey their knowledge in a great class room session and field days. They made it an easy environment to learn and had detailed answers and explanations to all questions. I would highly recommend Scott for any course you can get with him, he is the man.



Don’t get stuck waiting in crowded lift lines for skied out groomers this winter. Get ready for the best powder you’ve ever experienced. Learn how to safely make your first tracks in backcountry skiing environments.  Expand your knowledge through our formal avalanche education.

Our staff is dedicated to prepare you for the backcountry. Our priority is assuring that our clients have the safest and most fulfilling experience possible. We are grateful to be able to share the beautiful mountains we enjoy with you. We encourage you to get to know our instructors, and we look forward to connecting with each of you individually.



The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE)  is a non-profit organization that offers the only internationally recognized curriculum in the US. AIARE continues to research and develop their curriculum, standards and guidelines for instructors. All AIARE instructors must meet prerequisites and attend training sessions before they access the AIARE curriculum. Therefore, you can trust Apex’s AIARE instructors to get you ready for the backcountry.



The first day of the 3 day avalanche school will be spent in a classroom setting. There, we discuss avalanche characteristics, types and movements. We also cover the metamorphism of a mountain snowpack and how human behavior can affect our interaction with the backcountry.

The following two days we develop the previously mentioned topics firsthand, in the backcountry. We will also begin to use avalanche terrain equipment.



Students should be prepared to travel in backcountry terrain by ski or splitboard (or snowshoe, if no other option). The Backcountry Avalanche Course take place in mountainous terrain, at altitude. Weather can be harsh at times. As a result, we urge that students come prepared for unfavorable conditions.