AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course - Washington Avalanche Training 

Seattle AIARE Avalanche Course 1

Stevens Pass 2019-20 Dates:
  • Dec 6-8, 2019
  • Dec 13-15, 2019 (Full)
  • Dec 20-22, 2019
  • Jan 3-5, 2020 (Full)
  • Jan 10-12, 2020 (Full)
  • Jan 17-19, 2020 (Full)
  • Jan 31-Feb 2, 2020 (3 spots left)
  • Feb 7-9, 2020
  • Custom Dates Also Available

Mission Ridge 2019-20 Dates:
  • Jan 23-26, 2020 (4 spots left)
  • Custom Dates Also Available

Snoqualmie Pass 2019-20 Dates:
  • Jan 9-12, 2020 (Full)
  • Jan 16-19, 2020 (Full)
  • Jan 23-26, 2020 (Full)
  • Jan 30-Feb 2, 2020 (4 spots left)
  • Custom Dates Also Available

Cost: $450


Location: Leavenworth, WA and Stevens Pass Ski Area, 2 hours from Seattle, WA.

Ready to Sign up?

Cost Includes
Course Materials & Guide Fees
Cost Does Not Include
Transportation, Food, or Lodging

Client to Guide Ratio: Up to 6 to 1

Related Courses: AIARE Level 2

Expedition PDFs 

Equipment List ยป

Seattle AIARE Avalanche Course 4
Seattle AIARE Avalanche Course 2
Seattle AIARE Avalanche Course 3
Seattle AIARE Avalanche Course 5
Seattle AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course 6
AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course  with the Northwest Mountain School
AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course  with the Northwest Mountain School
AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course  with the Northwest Mountain School
AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course  with the Northwest Mountain School
AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course  with the Northwest Mountain School
AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course  with the Northwest Mountain School

Decision Making In Avalanche Terrain 

These courses takes place in Leavenworth, WA and in the backcountry around Stevens Pass Ski area. We also now offer courses at Mission Ridge with classroom activities taking place in Wenatchee and at Snoqulamie Pass with classroom courses taking place in Seattle. The course is designed to give students a basic understanding of why avalanches occur and to develop a framework for making decisions while traveling in avalanche terrain. Additionally the course provides instruction in beacon use and companion rescue should an avalanche occur. Students who successfully complete the course will be given an AIARE level 1 certificate. We also run AIARE Avalanche Rescue Courses and AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Courses for those looking to build on their Level 1 training or enter the AIARE Pro track courses.

Stevens Pass Avalanche Course Itinerary 

Day 1: This is an afternoon/evening session and involves instructor and group introductions, followed by and overview of avalanche types and characteristics. We will introduce our first case study as we analyze actual avalanche incidents. This evening session provides the basic knowledge needed to intelligently discuss avalanche phenomena on day 2. (2 PM to 8 PM)

Day 2: This day starts indoors and then spends the majority of the day outdoors. We begin with a review of the current avalanche forecast, formulate a plan for the day, and then we head outside for a backcountry tour. During our tour we touch on companion rescue and make observations relevant to our tour and tomorrow's objective. We end the day with a short route planning session and preparation for the next days full-day tour. (8 AM - 6 PM)

Day 3: This day starts early at Stevens Pass Ski area. We use the chairlift to put us in position for a quick entry into the backcountry. During the day we focus on appropriate route selection, features of the snowpack, and terrain identification. We end back at Stevens with a debrief and discussion of ways to continue to develop your avalanche related skills. (8 AM - 4 PM)

Mission Ridge Avalanche Course Itinerary 

Evenings 1 & 2: These two evenings run from 6 PM - 9 PM at the Riverfront Rock Gym in Wenatchee. We cover instructor and group introductions, avalanche types and characteristics, look at case studies, and then work on our tour plans for the following two days based on review of local weather & avalanche forecasts.

Day 3: Similar to Day 2 listed above, with the exception that our tours take place either near Mission Ridge Ski area or Blewett Pass depending on current local conditions. (8 AM - 5 PM)

Day 4: Similar to Day 3 listed above, this is a full day tour. Our first choice is to use the backcountry immediately adjacent to the Mission Ridge Ski Area, but we do have the option to use Blewett Pass if local conditions indicate more favorable touring conditions there. (8 am - 5 PM)

Snoqualmie Pass Avalanche Course Itinerary 

Evenings 1 & 2: These two evenings run from 6 PM - 9 PM from a classroom in Seattle (TBD). These two sessions cover material similar to that listed above for the Mission Ridge - Wenatchee based avalanche course.

Day 3: Similar to Day 2 at both the Stevens and Mission based courses, with the exception that the touring takes place in the Snoqualmie Pass backcountry, adjacent to the Alpental Ski area. (8 AM - 5 PM)

Day 4: Similar to the Day 3 at both Stevens and Mission based courses, with the exception that all touring takes place in the Snoqualmie Pass backcountry, adjacent to the Alpental Ski area. (8 AM - 5 PM)

Student Prerequisites 

This course will have a backcountry component. During the field day on the last day of the programs we will spend the full day in the backcountry. For this section students will need appropriate alpine touring (AT), telemark, or split board equipment. On many courses there will also be space for participants on snowshoes. Call the office to discuss equipment at 509-548-5823. It is essential that participants show up with gear that will allow them and the group to travel efficiently in avalanche terrain. You do not need to be an advanced skier or boarder for the course, but you should be able to ascend moderate slopes using skins, and should be able to ski downhill effectively in a variety of snow conditions. The goal is not speed, but rather efficiency and safety.

The AIARE Program 

As members of the American Association of Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE), we use the AIARE (pronounced "Airy") framework for teaching our avalanche courses. There are certainly other methods for teaching an avalanche course, but this is the one that we have found the most effective and currently seems to closest the US has come to adopting a standard for avalanche education.

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course Description 

The level one is a 3 day/24 hour introduction to avalanche hazard management. The course is expected to:

  • Provide a basic understanding of avalanches
  • Describe a framework for decision making and risk management in avalanche terrain
  • Focus on identifying the right questions, rather than on providing "answers."
  • Give lessons and exercises that are practically oriented, useful, and applicable in the field.

Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn rescue techniques required to find and dig up a buried person (if an avalanche occurs and someone in the party is caught).

A final debrief includes a knowledge quiz to test student comprehension and to give feedback to instructors on instructional tools. Students are encouraged and counseled on how to apply the skills learned and told that no course can fully guarantee safety, either during or after course completion.

AIARE 1 Student Learning Outcomes 

At the end of the Level One course the student should be able to:
  • Develop a plan for travel in avalanche terrain.
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify avalanche terrain.
  • Effectively use the AIARE Decision Making Framework to make terrain choices in a group setting
  • Demonstrate effective companion rescue.

Instructional Sessions 

(24 hours including both class and field instruction):

1. Introduction to the Avalanche Phenomena

  • Types and characteristics of avalanches
  • Avalanche motion
  • Size classification
  • The mountain snowpack: an introduction to metamorphism and layering

2. Observations and Information Gathering

  • Field observation techniques
  • Bonding tests: rutschblock, compression test
  • Avalanche danger factors; "Red Flags".
  • Observation checklist
  • Avalanche danger scale
  • Trip Planning and Preparation
  • Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment, and selection
  • Route finding and travel techniques
  • Decision making and Human Factors
  • Companion Rescue and Equipment


You must provide your own food, lodging, and transportation during the course. The first two days will be based in Leavenworth and along the US highway 2 corridor, and the 3rd day will take place in the backcountry near Stevens Pass Ski area. All Stevens Pass / Leavenworth courses are based out of the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, located at the mouth of Icicle Creek Canyon.

Lodging Options 

Many students will be staying at home in Leavenworth or nearby communities and commuting to and from the course each day. For those traveling from outside the area we recommend the following options. For courses taking place in December, you will need to book a room ASAP as things fill quickly due to the Leavenworth's Christmas lighting festival. If coming from out of the area for courses at Mission Ridge, Wenatchee is the best place to book your lodging and for the Snoqualmie Pass, we recommend finding lodging on the Eastside near I-90 to facilitate easy travel to/from Snoqualmie Pass.

This program takes place on US Forest Service lands under a commercial-outfitter and guide permit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs & activities and is an equal opportunity provider and employer.