AIARE Level 2

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Take your backcountry skiing to the next level this winter with an AIARE Level 2 course. Start by refreshing the skills you learned in your AIARE Level 1 course, then continue on to more advanced concepts and skills. Prepare your team to travel farther, higher and with greater efficiency into new terrain with increased confidence. 

Topics covered will include:

  • In-Depth Avalanche Anatomy
  • Complex Weather
  • Snowpack Analysis
  • Advanced Terrain Management
  • Progressive Travel Techniques


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


Learn the decision-making skills necessary to evaluate and travel in avalanche terrain in an AIARE Level 2 course with the Vail Valley’s #1 Recommended Apex Mountain School. The prerequisites for this course include an Avalanche Rescue course and any AAA certified Level 1 course.                                                                                             

Also available by private – visit our private avalanche education page

2023-24 DATES

  • February 2-4
  • February 23-25
  • March 22-24


Max ratio 1 instructor to 6 clients
Course: $645


  • Student Manual
  • AIARE Field Book
  • Apex Mountain School SWAG (Stuff We All Get)
  • 3 Full Field Days
  • AIARE Certificate of Completion


Moderate – Difficult


Three 8-hour days


Classroom Location – Eagle-Vail, CO (see How to Find Us)

Vail Valley, Vail Pass, Fremont Pass and/or surrounding areas

 *Courses run regardless of snow/weather conditions*

NOTE: Participants must complete an AIARE Level 1 and Rescue course before taking the level 2


See our inclusion policy for special group requests.


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.)    

NOTE: Participants must complete an AIARE Level 1 and Rescue course before taking the level 2

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. At times, weather can be harsh. As a result, we urge that students come prepared for unfavorable conditions. Suggestions for proper attire are located in the “to bring” tab.

Registration for the course is required. Furthermore, we offer Private Courses in which you will be taught in a personal setting with your own instructor.


  • Route/Trip Planning
  • Communication
  • Navigation
  • Terrain Management
  • How to assign a leader
  • Organize a group
  • Implement structured search patterns
  • Recovery

Similarly, we adapt to the individual and collective skill levels of the participants. As a result, we provide the greatest value to the participant based on where they are with their combined rescue skills. Altogether, these skills may include the subsequent rescue techniques.

  • Avalanche rescue
  • Multiple burial
  • Deep burial
  • Triage
  • Other aspects of backcountry rescue

Additionally, winter travel in the Colorado Rockies and beyond demands a strong knowledge of the following items in order to appropriately assess and manage risk.

  • Avalanche terrain
  • Avalanche types and characteristics
  • Human characteristics
  • Group dynamics



  • Beacon/probe/shovel (rental available)
  • Clothing for activities and standing in cold/snowy weather (no cotton
  • Long underwear
  • Insulating layers
  • Outer layer (wind/waterproof shell pant and top)
  • Down puffy
  • Warm gloves, mitts, headband, and hat/facemask/buff
  • Goggles and sunglassesSmall personal first aid kit (sunscreen/lip-balm, moleskin, band-aids, medication, etc.)
  • Helmet (recommended)
  • Water Bottle
  • Headlamp and spare batteries
  • Pack
  • Food and water/hot liquid!


  • • You are required to arrive with equipment. Whether yours or rental, understand how to use your equipment in advance, how to transition the equipment, skins are cut and all equipment is functional and in working order PRIOR to our field days.


  • Avalanche probe – 260 cm or longer, no integrated ski pole probes or shovel-packed probes
  • Collapsible metal shovel
  • Digital avalanche transceiver (457 kHz frequency)
  • Air bag (optional)
  • Personal first aid kit (blisters, meds, wound care, gloves/face shield, splinting material, sugar etc.)
  • Repair kit, specific to your mode of travel (consider multi-tool, bit driver, hose clamps, straps, spare screws, tape, zip ties, spare basket, pole repair, spark plugs, drive belt etc…)
  • Insulating pad (can be part of pack)
  • Rescue sled, portable w/ supporting slings/straps (OPTIONAL, one per group is sufficient)
  • Emergency shelter as appropriate (OPTIONAL, space blanket, guide’s tarp, bivy sac / bothy bag etc…)


  • CLINOMETER/inclinometer
  • 2 mechanical pencils
  • Field notebook (Apex provides these)
  • 3m long intermittently knotted cord (2-4mm thick) or manufactured Rutschblock cord
  • Snow saw (min 35cm blade). 70-100cm folding long-saw may replace Rutschblock cord.
  • Snow thermometers (qty 2, graduated in degrees Celsius, not Fahrenheit). Dial stem and/or glass/alcohol types are commonly used. Electronic thermometers are acceptable – be sure to have extra batteries.
  • Crystal identification screen; dark color
  • Magnifier (Otherwise known as Loupe), 10x-15x
  • Folding ruler (graduated in centimeters. 2 meter length)
  • You will need a laptop, tablet or smartphone for accessing weather stations and submitting observations (bring to class each day).


  • Terrain Images (optional)
  • Local maps
  • Compass
  • Altimeter/GPS or smartphone
  • Small binocular or monocular for distance viewing
  • Communications equipment (all optional, as Apex has):
  • Two-way radio, GMRS or VHF
  • Satellite phone or transponder (SPOT, DeLorme)


  • Avalanche Handbook (2006 3rd Edition, available for purchase from Apex)
  • SWAG book (Snow, weather, and avalanches: observation guidelines for avalanche programs in the US, 2010, available for purchase from Apex)
  • You will need a laptop, tablet or smartphone for accessing weather stations and submitting observations (bring to class each day).

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-apprioprate face covering at all times. 


  •  Reinforcement of Level 1 fundamentals
  • Snow profiles, surface condition analysis, and the formation of snowpack over time
  • Theory and observation of skier-triggered slides
  • Forecasting, avalanche observation and recording guidelines per U.S. and International guidelines
  • Small group travel and decision making


Following classroom sessions, we will travel by backcountry ski or splitboard to apply learned skills in a mountain environment, with a focus on:

  • Analysis of snow stability
  • Route selection and terrain analysis
  • Slope tests
  • Reinforcement of level 1 probe and shovel techniques, as well as rescue techniques for single and multiple burials.
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.