AIARE Level 1
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Be prepared for the unexpected when traveling in the backcountry with an Apex AIARE Level 1 Backcountry course. At Apex we believe the best preparation is education. Learn how to make informed decisions in adverse conditions through formal avalanche education. The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) strives to produce the highest quality, internationally recognized, avalanche curriculum available in the US. An AIARE Level 1 Backcountry course with Apex Mountain School promises current information, modern practices, and qualified instructors.

Participants will meet with their instructor(s) for an in person classroom day of discussion, planning, and group activities prior to their weekend field days. 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.

Have you put off taking your Apex AIARE Level 1 course because you could not get a Friday off from work or due to concerns about Covid? The Apex AIARE Level 1 Backcountry FLEX course offers the solution. The Apex FLEX course offers virtual evening class sessions prior to the standard weekend field days. 

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



All ages 12 and up

Completion of prerequisite e-learning modules is required by AIARE prior to the start of all courses and participants should be prepared for the AIARE Level 1 modules to take about 4 hours.

Participants should also be prepared to travel in backcountry terrain by ski or split board (snowshoes are acceptable if no other option). All AIARE Level 1 Backcountry courses take place in mountainous terrain, at altitude. Apex encourages students to come prepared for all mountain weather conditions.

Are you new to the backcountry or looking to hone your ski or split board skills prior to an AIARE course? Beginner Backcountry Ski and Split boarding outings with Apex are an excellent way to prepare! During a Vail Backcountry Skiing private outing, your Apex Mountain School guide will work with you on both up and downhill travel techniques and transitions as well as navigating in a backcountry environment.

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


AIARE Level 1 Backcountry CURRICULUM



Throughout a 27 hour Apex AIARE Level 1 Backcountry course, consisting of 1 classroom day 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 in the classroom then applied in person on the weekend field days.


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



COVID-19 Considerations:

Should federal, state and/or local health regulations prohibit indoor in-person class sessions, or should Apex determine that other factors dictate, all participants will be transferred to the Apex AIARE Level 1 Backcountry FLEX course, or to a virtual Friday classroom session. The FLEX course consists of two virtual class sessions conducted online (on the Tuesday and Thursday evening prior to your weekend field days) in place of the in-person class day. These evening sessions occur the same week as your classroom session was scheduled, and your Saturday/Sunday field sessions will remain the same as originally scheduled.

All ages 12 and up

Are you ready to enroll in an AIARE course? We look forward to being your guide to avalanche education. Register with the accompanying calendar, call (970) 949-9111 or use our contact page to request more info.


AIARE Level 1 – Quick Info

Learn the decision-making skills necessary to evaluate and travel in avalanche terrain in a Backcountry Avalanche Course. Interested in our 1-day avalanche rescue course?

All ages 12 and up

2022-23 DATES

  • November 18-20
  • November 25-27
  • December 2-4
  • December 9-11
  • December 16-18
  • December 30-January 1
  • January 6-8
  • January 13-15
  • January 20-22
  • January 27-29
  • February 3-5
  • February 10-12
  • Fbruary 17-19
  • February 24-26
  • March 3-5
  • March 10-12
  • March 14-16
  • March 17-19
  • March 24-26
  • March 31-April 2
  • April 7-9


Course – $595


Student Manual

AIARE Field Book

Apex Mountain School Buff

SANS meal Bar

1 Classroom Day

2 Full Field Days

AIARE Certificate of Completion


Easy – Moderate


Three 8 hour days

Friday 9am-5pm

Saturday 8am-5:30pm

Sunday 8am-5pm

*Start and end times are approximate


Classroom Location – Eagle-Vail, CO
Field Location – Vail Valley, Vail Pass or Fremont Pass

Interested in an online AIARE Level 1 course that will better align with your work schedule and help promote social distancing? This Apex FLEX course offers an alternative.  The Apex FLEX course offers a remote course with evening sessions. Click HERE to learn more.

*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)
  • 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


  • 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 AIARE Level 1 FLEX for additional course dates, or request a Private Course date.
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.