AIARE Avalanche Course Level 1 - Snoqualmie Pass

This Avalanche course is geared around the backcountry user who does not have any avalanche safety training yet. It is a judgment-building course packed with information. In the AIARE Level 1, you will be introduced to topics such as mountain weather, different snow packs, tour planning, hazard recognition and evaluation, snow pack analysis, transceiver search and much more.

Difficulty rating and Skill requirements

Difficulty Rating System

Overall Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Skills Required: Solid intermediate skiing skills or snowshoeing skills

Fitness Level: Not Very Strenuous

  • Category: Ski
  • Ratio: 6:1,12:2

* Required Fields

The Level 1 Avalanche course is a 24-hour introduction to avalanche hazard management. This three day course is a combination of lectures and fieldwork. We offer it in two different formats:

  • Three consecutive days from 8am to 4pm at Alpental (the first day will be mainly a classroom day with intermittent trips outdoors, and 2 field days) or

  • Two 3.5-hour evening sessions at Pro Ski and Mountain Service of North Bend (Tuesday and Thursday 6:30pm to 9:30 pm), and two field days in the Snoqualmie Backcountry (Saturday and Sunday 8am to 4pm).


This course is geared around the backcountry user who does not have any avalanche safety training yet. It is a judgment-building course packed with information. You will be introduced to topics such as mountain weather, different snow packs, tour planning, hazard recognition and evaluation, snow pack analysis, transceiver search and much more. 

By the end of the course, students should be able to:
• Plan and prepare for a day in avalanche terrain
• Recognize avalanche terrain
• Describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain
• Learn and apply effective companion rescue

This is the first in a series of three courses by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). Successful completion of this course will provide you with a Level 1 AIARE certification. 

Our instructor pool includes internationally trained and certified mountain guides through the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA)/American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), and AIARE instructor trainings. 
If you are brand new to both avalanche safety and ski touring, please check out our Intro to Ski Touring Combo course. This adds 3 days onto your Level 1 course (several dates to choose from), and provides you with the skills to gain a lot more out of your avalanche course, and the ability to go explore the backcountry with efficient movement and necessary skills. Look at our course listing to find out more information. 

Course Curriculum:
Classroom Evening One:

  • Welcome/Introductions

  • What is AIARE

  • Course objectives and goals            

  • Case study

  • Theme of course – Introduction to Decision Making Framework

  • Avalanche Types and Characteristics

  • Avalanche Terrain

Classroom Evening Two:

  • Planning and Preparation

  • Avalanche forecasts

  • Telemetry

  • Maps and navigation

  • Information gathering

  • Human factors

  • Equipment

  • Avalanche Danger Scale

  • Observations and Clue Gathering

  • Creation of Layers in the Mountain Snowpack

Field Day One:

  • The Human Factor

  • Terrain Selection and Travel Technique

  • Introduction to companion rescue Intro to transceivers (function check, battery check)

  • Single burial

  • Active tests

  • Demonstration of travel techniques

  • All the topics below

  • Common errors and human factors

  • Terrain identification

  • Terrain red flag identification

  • Terrain management

 Field Day Two:

  • More Active tests

  • Test Profile (snow pit)

  • Slope angle, aspect, elevation

  • Layering

  • Compression test

  • Extended column test

  • Companion Rescue - single burial, shoveling techniques, probing techniques

  • Rescue scenario

  • Course review/debrief

  • Course evaluations

Question and answer time

Pro Ski LogoSign up for a course or a trip and receive a 10% discount on purchases and a 20% discount on gear rental.

Pro Ski and Mountain Service is our retail specialty store. It has been located in North Bend, WA since 1999.

The past trips and courses have had a large influence on what we sell. Many of our Pro Guiding customers come on trips and courses with gear they purchased from our store. Not only do we want our clients to have the right gear for the job; we also receive direct feedback from them while they are using it in the field. Trust us - if the gear does not work - we won't sell it.


Equipment list:
•            BASE  LAYER
o            1 Bottom - midweight or lightweight
o            1 Top - midweight or lightweight
o            Sock Liners
o            Ski Socks
•            MID LAYER
o            Windshirt, Soft Shell, Fleece - only one of these is necessary
•            OUTERWEAR
o            Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Jacket
o            Schoeller™  Type Pants
o            Warm Hat - should cover ears
o            Sun Hat - baseball type or visor
o            Lightweight Gloves
o            Ski Gloves
•            PERSONAL GEAR
o            Day Pack – 25 to 40 Liters
o            Water Bottles - 1 or 2 liters, wide mouth, hydration system
o            Lunch and Snacks - appropriate for a full day
o            Sunglasses - adequate for snow travel
o            Goggles
o            Sunscreen - SPF >25, waterproof
o            Lip Balm - SPF 15
o            Skis, Splitboard or Snowshoes
o            Ski Boots
o            Ski Poles
o            Climbing Skins or Snowshoes for uphill travel
o            Ski Brakes or Removable Ski Leashes
•            SAFETY GEAR
o            Transceiver - single frequency,  457 kHz only
o            Shovel - compact, lightweight, metal blade preferred
o            Probe - dedicated probe only, ski poles do not suffice
•            OPTIONAL ITEMS *We highly recommend these items, but do not require them to participate.
o            Snow Saw - longer saws are better for stability tests
o            Basic Snow Study Kit - dial stem thermometer(s), crystal card, loupe, ruler
o            Notebook and Writing Utensil
o            Down or Synthetic Jacket
o            Winter Snow Boots – Sorel type
o            Thermos - vacuum type
o            Compass - adjustable declination a must
o            Altimeter - Suunto watch works well
o            Map Case - large zip-loc will suffice
o            Maps - contact guiding office for appropriate quadrangles
o            Technical Gear
o            Group 1st Aid Kit

How much time will we be spending indoors versus in the field? About two thirds of the time will be spent outside.

Where will we meet? For the three day consequtive courses we will meet at the Denny Mountain Lodge at Alpental unless you get notified otherwise. Get there by driving Interstate 90 to the West Summit exit on Snoqualmie Pass. Go left at the stop sign and follow the road to the Main Parking lot of the Alpental ski area. Go across the bridge and take a right into the Lodge.  Account for about an hour of driving time from the Seattle area.

For the courses with the two evening classes we will meet at Pro Ski Ski and Mountain Service (108 West North Bend Way, North Bend, WA). 

You will be contacted by the instructors or the office directly regarding the exact meeting time and location.

Is there another course that work well in conjunction with the AIARE Level one course? Yes, we believe that the Intro to Ski touring course would work very well. This very application and movement based ski touring course is a great compliment the more principle based AIARE course. This is why we offer a 10% discount for anyone who signs up for both courses.