AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course - Analyzing Snow Stability & Avalanche Hazard 


AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course #2

Course: AIARE Avalanche Level 2

Area: Leavenworth, WA & Central Cascades Backcountry

Winter 2020-21 Dates:
  • December 18-20, 2020 (Stevens)
  • January 8-10, 2021 (Stevens)
  • Jan 15-17, 2021 (Stevens)
  • Feb 2-4, 2021 (Stevens Weekday)
  • Custom Dates Available

Cost: $475

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Cost Includes
AIARE Field Book, and all course materials, 24 hours of instruction.
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Cost Does Not Include
Transportation to/from the course area, personal food, personal climbing equipment, trailhead parking pass fees (if needed), additional books that you may chose to purchase.

Client to Guide Ratio: 6:1

Expedition PDFs 


Equipment List ┬╗

AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course #3
AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course #4
AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course#5
The AIARE Level 2 has been redesigned to meet the needs of advanced recreational backcountry users that have previously taken both the AIARE Level 1 and the AIARE Avalanche Rescue Course.

The AIARE Level 2 is a 3-Day / 24-hour course that provides backcountry travelers an opportunity to advance their decision making skills in more complicated situations such as being the group leader, developing a travel plan in areas without an avalanche forecast, or travel into more complicated terrain.

The AIARE Level 2 course builds from the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in the AIARE level 1 and adds to it the evaluation of factors critical to stability evaluation.

The classroom sections of the course are based in Leavenworth, WA and we use a variety of field locations giving us the ability to observe a variety of snowpacks at various elevations. During the winter 20-21 programs we will use online lectures if meeting in class, inside, is not practical for covid considerations. Most of the training takes place in the backcountry and requires participants to be able to move efficiently in a backcountry environment. AT skis or a split board with skins are your best choice for backcountry travel.

AIARE Level 2 Student Learning Outcomes 

At the end of the AIARE Level 2 course the student should be able to:
  • Differentiate where specific avalanche hazards exist within the landscape and identify avalanche terrain where consequences may be more severe.
  • Use and interpret weather, snow, and avalanche observations to locate appropriate terrain prior to entering and while in the field.
  • Demonstrate leadership skills within a small team that include facilitating small group discussion, promoting appropriate terrain selection, and utilizing simple risk management strategies.
  • Implement a basic forecasting framework that can be used in conjunction with and in the absences of local supporting avalanche information.

Instructional Sessions (24 hours including both class and field) include: 


  1. Advanced snow stability analysis
  2. Avalanche forecasting
  3. How to observe and record weather, snowpack, and avalanche activity
  4. Detailed analysis and recognition of avalanche terrain
  5. Faceting; near surface and near crust faceting
  6. Formation of surface hoar and persistent weak layers
  7. Standard Observation guidelines and recording formats for factors that influence or indicate snow stability.
  8. How to make a snow stability analysis
  9. Using a forecasting framework
  10. Increasing your understanding of avalanche release and triggering mechanisms
  11. Information gathering including: site selection and relevancy, spatial variability, and slope tests

Student Prerequisites  

Students must have taken both the AIARE L1 and the AIARE Avalanche Rescue Course to participate in this program. We will be offering the Avalanche Rescue Course the day before each scheduled AIARE L2 in order to send you into the course with current rescue skills. If you prefer you can take the Avalanche Rescue Course on one of the other dates offered in advance of your course. Participants must be on an AT setup, Tele Setup, or split board. You should be able to skin uphill, and move efficiently in the backcountry as the course involves a decent amount of backcountry travel.

More about the new AIARE L2 

It has been several years since the AIARE pro-red split and we are very happy with the way that these courses have developed. In the past we felt that our Level 1 students were lacking in the perfect opportunity to continue their avalanche travel related training. The previous Level 2 came in a bit too tech for your average recreational user, but the previous level 1 did not have an effective way to provide continuing education for Level 1 graduates. The new AIARE level 2 builds significantly on material covered in the AIARE L1 and serves as both a good refresher and powerful opportunity to expand your understanding of how weather, snowpack, and avalanches processes relate to observations and travel in avalanche terrain. If it has been a few years since e you completed your AIARE L1 and you want to refresh your skill set and take it to the next level, then the AIARE L2 is logical choice.

AIARE Level 2 Equipment 

Recommended equipment is covered in detail in our equipment list, but there are some items we would like to point out. If taking the level 2 you should own a beacon, shovel & probe. We also rent these items. Ideally your probe will have measurements in 1 cm graduations allowing this to stand in for your ruler. You should also consider picking up a copy of the 3rd edition of the Avalanche Handbook as well as a copy of the snow, weather and avalanche observation and recording guidelines (SWAG). You can view the SWAG here and you can purchase the SWAG here. It is most important to have a basic snow study kit including: Snow thermometer (Celcius required, digital is nice), a Loupe or magnifying glass (10x to 20x magnification), 2 mechanical pencils, and a Crystal screen. We will give you a field book for recording data that includes useful cheat sheets to remind you of the most commonly used items from the SWAG manual published by the US Forest Service. Other items that are not required, but that you might consider include: a compass, altimeter, inclinometer, snow saw, and rutschblock cord. If working as a professional you will already own most of these items. If not working as a professional you might consider bringing what you have to the course and then deciding what to buy at the end when you have had a chance to see all the latest and greatest gear during the course. Brooks Range Mountaineering is a good source for snow science materials.

Logistics 

You must provide your own food, lodging, and transportation during the course. Most days will involve some indoor work in Leavenworth with field sessions taking place at a variety of locations in the mountains surrounding Leavenworth.

Lodging Options 

Lodging is not included in the course, but Leavenworth does have a wide variety of lodging options. There is also a possibility that participants from the course may be able to house people from outside the area if you are looking for less expensive lodging options and open to a bit of couch surfing. The following are some of our preferred lodging options.

High End Accommodations near Leavenworth 

Sleeping Lady Retreat and Conference Center
Run of the River Inn
Enzian Hotel

Moderately Priced Accommodations near Leavenworth 

Howard Johnson Inn - Leavenworth
Icicle Inn
Innsbrucker Inn

Rental Space in our friend's mother in law apt 

Der Hundeh├╝tte

Pre-Course Quiz 

This information will be sent to you along with the pre-trip materials, but you will be asked to complete a pre-course quiz and bring this to the course start. The idea behind this it to have you review your own recollection of AIARE level 1 knowledge prior to the course start. View the AIARE Level 2 Pre-Course Quiz.

Custom Programs 

If you have a group of 2 to 12 people we can often put together a custom date. Weekends tend to fill quickly and we often do not have sufficient staff to conduct custom programs on weekends, but we can generally put together off-weekend custom programs for your group. Past groups include search & rescue personnel, military groups, climbing clubs, youth groups, and groups of friends that travel in the backcountry together. The cost for custom programs is based on the number of people that register, with the final cost approaching our set-date cost if you have at least 5-6 people. Best to just give us a call at 509-548-5823 to discuss your custom program.

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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.