Backcountry Avalanche Course - AIARE Level 1

AIARE Level 1
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Be prepared when traveling in the backcountry with an AIARE Level 1 Backcountry course. Learn how to make informed decisions in order to mitigate risk in adverse conditions. An AIARE Level 1 Backcountry course with Apex Mountain School promises current information, modern practices, and qualified instructors.

The AIARE Level 1 Backcountry course is divided into 3 Days:

  • Day 1 is spent in the classroom. You will have the opportunity to view interactive diagrams, work on small group activities and ask questions before your weekend field days.
  • Day 2 allows instructors to guide students through a backcountry tour and companion rescue drills.
  • Day 3 is the opportunity for students to show what they have learned. Instructors will observe the students’ decision making during a student-led tour through the backcountry.

Participants are expected to complete a series of pre-course e-learning modules and evening assignments during the course. These AIARE modules are fundamental to success in the course. 

Other Courses

The Apex Avy Prep course offers an opportunity to get comfortable in the backcountry and ensure you are ready for the Level 1 Field days. The Apex AIARE Level 1 Zoom course offers an opportunity to complete your Level 1 without taking Friday off from work. An Avalanche Rescue Course will prepare for those “what if” scenarios. 


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?

This course is available to all ages 12 and up. (Ages 12-14 requires parents to attend also. All minor registrations must contact the office in advance of booking for prescreening approval.) 

2023-24 DATES

  • November 10-12
  • November 17-19
  • November 24-26
  • December 1-3
  • December 8-10
  • December 15-17
  • December 22-24
  • December 29-31
  • January 5-7
  • January 12-14
  • January 19-21
  • January 26-28
  • February 2-4
  • February 9-11
  • February 16-18
  • February 23-25
  • March 1-3
  • March 8-10
  • March 15-17
  • March 22-24
  • March 29-31
  • April 5-7
  • April 12-14
  • April 19-21
  • April 26-28

**minimum of 3 students to run the course**

**Availability updated weekly. For present availability please see the booking calendar to the right of the page.**


Course – $645


Student Manual

AIARE Field Book

Apex Mountain School SWAG (Stuff We All Get)

1 Classroom Day

2 Full Field Days

AIARE Certificate of Completion


Easy – Moderate


Three 8-hour days

Friday 8:30am-4:30pm

Saturday 8am-5:30pm

Sunday 8am-5pm

*Start and end times are approximate


Classroom Location – Eagle-Vail, CO (see How to Find Us)
Field Location – Vail Valley, Vail Pass, Fremont Pass and/or surrounding areas

*Courses run regardless of snow/weather conditions*


See our inclusion policy for special group requests.


Completion of e-learning modules is required by AIARE prior to the start of all courses. AIARE Level 1 modules often take about 4 hours.

Participants should 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.


  • 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.

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”
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.
Andrew Kirchhoff
Andrew Kirchhoff
July 1, 2022.
My teen sons and I had an amazing time rappelling with Bob in Vail! Apex provided everything we needed and accommodated our last minute booking. Thank you Apex!!
June 29, 2022.
Myself and my family had a awesome time repelling. Thanks to Bob we had fun while staying safe. I would recommend for anyone seeking a thrilling experience.
Colin Kirchhoff
Colin Kirchhoff
June 29, 2022.
Bob was a fantastic guide! Despite never repelling before, Bob never failed to make us feel safe and confident enough to have fun. 10/10 experience. Thank you so much!
Beth Ann Rosica
Beth Ann Rosica
June 28, 2022.
We had an amazing day climbing with Bob! We had 4 kids between 13 and 15, and Bob coached all of them to the top! He was patient and encouraging and kept everyone safe! I highly recommend Apex for a climbing experience! The kids are hooked on climbing and loved the adventure!
Jack Saussy
Jack Saussy
June 27, 2022.
My family had a great day climbing with Bob. He was very knowledgeable about the routes and equipment and turned our half day of climbing into a lesson. I plan to get my own shoes and join a gym at home because of this great experience, I highly recommend Apex Mountain School!
Jamie Schmid
Jamie Schmid
February 7, 2022.
We had such a blast ice climbing with our guide Jesse! He was so helpful and motivating and never made us feel like we were terrible at climbing even though it was our first time haha and he was so patient with all my picture taking and getting great shots! Would 1,000% recommend!
Joe Mahoney
Joe Mahoney
January 18, 2022.
Took my AIARE 1 through APEX. It was hard to decide with so many options out there. Look no further, APEX is exactly what you're looking for. I walked away with the exact knowledge I was hoping to get, and more. Josh V was our instructor and is extremely knowledgeable, had great answers to all of our questions and was just great to hang out with in the backcountry. Can't recommend these guys enough.
Shannon M.
Shannon M.
December 6, 2021.
Recently took the Level 1 AIARE Course with Apex and had a great experience. All of the instructors were extremely knowledgeable and passionate about snow safety and answered all questions in great detail to ensure the students learned as much as possible in the 3 day course. It was a very hands on experience and we were even able to do lots of field work despite the low snow conditions right now. Will definitely come back for another course, and looking forward to more backcountry travel with all the new info learned!
kurt albertson
kurt albertson
November 24, 2021.
Apex Mountain School is a wonderful outdoor educational and guide service! Recently took the level one AIARE and Avalanche Rescue course through Apex. Our instructors Andy and Mike were highly professional, knowledgeable and very engaging instructors that were very passionate about snow safety and teaching others about best practices to enjoy their experiences safely in the backcountry. Would highly recommend anyone regardless of experience to take a course with Apex. Looking forward to continuing my outdoor experiences with Apex in the future via additional educational courses as well as the opportunity for private guided trips. Excellent people and a great experience!!!
Tom Watson
Tom Watson
November 23, 2021.
I took the AIARE 1 course with Apex Mountain school and it was truly an amazing experience. Andy was a outstanding instructor, he fostered a culture in the group that encouraged participation, teamwork, learning and fun! The knowledge and tools learned in the course were second to none. We were fortunate to have a small group of 5, and this allowed for a lot of questions, learn by doing, and overall really fun time. I cannot recommend Apex Mountain School enough.