AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course - Washington Avalanche Training 

Seattle AIARE Avalanche Course 1

Winter 2016-17 Dates:
  • Dec. 2-4, 2016
  • Dec. 9-11, 2016 (Full)
  • Dec. 16-18, 2016 (Full)
  • January 6-8, 2017 (Full)
  • Jan 14-16, 2017 (Full)
  • Jan 20-22, 2017 (Full)
  • Jan 27-29, 2017 (Full)
  • Feb 3-5, 2017 (Full)
  • Custom Dates Also Available

Cost: $340


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

Ready to Sign up?

Cost Includes
Course Materials, Single-Ride Ticket at Stevens Pass (if needed)
Cost Does Not Include
Transportation, Food, or Lodging

Client to Guide Ratio: Up to 7 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 

This course takes place in Leavenworth, WA and in the backcountry around Stevens Pass Ski area. 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 an AIARE Level 1 Refresher Course for graduates of our or other companies level 1 courses as well as AIARE Level 2 avalanche courses for those looking to build on their Level 1 training.

Avalanche Course Sample 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 will involve a combination of indoor and outdoor training. The day generally starts with a discussion of terrain features and then moves on to additional case studies. In the afternoon we get outside to introduce beacons and companion rescue. The day ends with a route planning session as we prepare for our final day, a full day in the mountains. (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 the day with a mock rescue scenario and debrief. (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.

Student Learning Outcomes 

At the end of the Level One course the student should be able to:

  • Plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain.
  • Recognize avalanche terrain
  • Describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain.
  • Learn and apply 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 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.

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.