Avalanche Training - AIARE 2

Overview

A skier makes his way up the north side of Mt. Baker on a perfect winter day.

A skier makes his way up the north side of Mt. Baker on a perfect winter day.  Andy Bourne

Designed for serious backcountry travellers and mountain professionals, the AIARE 2 Course is a thorough introduction to snow science.  Unlike the AIARE 1 course, which is focused on avalanche fundamentals, decision making, accident avoidance, and rescue skills, the AIARE 2 course develops an understanding of snowpack formation and metamorphism.  The course alternates between the field and the classroom and puts field observations into a larger context of weather telemetry and other available data.  Through this process of data collection and classroom analysis and discussion, the student gains a theoretical framework for understanding snowpack mechanics and an ability to translate this theory into well-informed practices in the field that minimize their exposure to hazardous terrain.

Observation guidelines and recording standards for factors that influence and indicate snowpack stability are presented. Avalanche formation and release are discussed. A stability analysis and forecasting process is introduced. This course is designed for those who have an interest in expanding their knowledge and understanding of snow stability and snow stability factors. It is ideal for snow safety and guiding professionals, people interested in these and related careers, and recreational practitioners who are looking for advanced knowledge and skills. The AIARE 2 serves as a pre-requisite for AIARE 3 courses. 

Avalanche Training - AIARE 2

Curriculum

Avy 1 - AIARE

 

The AIARE (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) was founded to provide instructors with the tools to educate students about the knowledge and decision making skills necessary to travel in avalanche terrain.

The American Alpine Institute's Avalanche Course instructors are AIARE trained and will teach the standardized AIARE curriculum on each course.

There is no nationally recognized curriculum for avalanche education in the USA. There are many avalanche courses and programs available but in large part, course providers operate according to their own personal beliefs and ideas. There are few means for the public to assess the quality of an avalanche course or instructor.

AIARE was formed to address this situation. They have developed and continue to develop standardized curriculum for a complete program of avalanche courses that meets the needs of students at all levels, from recreational to professional and from novice to advanced. AIARE has created and will continue to create course materials for instructors and students to maximize the effectiveness of both teachers and learners. They require instructors to meet pre-requisites and attend a training session before they are allowed access to AIARE materials and curriculum. In addition, instructors are required to sign an agreement stating they will abide by the guidelines established by AIARE and they are required to attend regular refreshers to maintain and improve their avalanche knowledge, instructional skills, and their understanding of the evolving AIARE curriculum and materials.

Avalanche Training - AIARE 2

Course Structure

Identifying layers in the snowpack

Identifying layers in the snowpack.
Dyan Padagas

This course will be held over four full, consecutive days, including both classroom and field instruction. Students will have the classroom session on the first day in Bellingham, then the next 3 days will be a mix of field observations and instruction (see below).

The course will include lessons and practice in the following subjects:

  • Avalanche formation and release
  • Snow stability factors
  • Observing and recording weather
  • Observing and recording the snowpack
  • Observing and recording avalanche activity
  • Stability analysis and forecasting

 

Itinerary

  • Day 1 - We meet at 7:45am at our classroom space for the lecture session (location information will be emailed to students). After finishing at 5pm, you will have an hour to deal with any rental equipment needs for the next three days in the snow. Please see the Equipment tab for more information.
  • Day 2 - Meet in the morning for a breifing and discussion of the conditions for the day, then head to the Mount Baker Ski Area, which is a 1 hr 30 min drive from Bellingham, for a day spent in the field. See the Mount Baker Ski Area website.  We'll meet up for a debrief and discuss the observations that were made.
  • Day 3 - Meet for a breifing again, then drive to the Mount Baker Ski Area for another field day, practicing the skills you learn in the previous days.  We'll regroup for a debrief and discussion.
  • Day 4 - Meet for a breifing again, then drive to the Mount Baker Ski Area for another field day, practicing the skills you learn in the previous days, and executing a planned backcountry tour.  At the end of the day, we'll regroup for our final discussion and debrief before heading home.

 

Please note:  Lecture spaces, morning briefings, and evening analysis and discussion sessions will meet in a variety of locales, including Bellingham and Glacier, WA. It is best to make your accommodations in Bellingham for at least the first night before the course, then you are welcome to make them for somewhere between Bellingham and Glacier for the remaining evenings. Lodging at the Mountaineers Lodge or camping at the Ski Area is not recommended as the class will be meeting lower on the mountain and you will need to drive back into town before heading out to the field. Please see the "Cost & Details" tab for more information.

Avalanche Training - AIARE 2

Dates & Locations

  • Dec 16 - Dec 19, 2016 - FULL
  • Jan 13 - Jan 16, 2017
  • Feb 03 - Feb 06, 2017
  • Feb 23 - Feb 26, 2017

 

If you are unable to make any of the scheduled course dates, or are interested in any variation of the AIARE Avalanche program, please contact us.

 

Skinning up Heliotrope Ridge on Mt. Baker's north side.

Skinning up Heliotrope Ridge on Mt. Baker's north side.
Andy Bourne

Avalanche Training - AIARE 2

Cost & Details

$525

Max Ratio - 6:1 (Climber:Guide)

Capacity - 18

 

Prerequisites

AIARE 1 Course or equivalent experience

 

Lodging and Logistics

The course runs 7:30am to 5:00pm each day, you must provide your own transportation, food and lodging throughout the course. 

 

Lodging Options

  1. Stay each night in a Bellingham hotel and commute to AAI/ Mt. Baker Ski Area each day. The Best Western Heritage Inn provides discounts to all AAI program participants; just let them know you are on an AAI course. The address and phone is 151 East McLeod Road - (360) 647-1912. Another option is the Days Inn at 215 Samish Way, Bellingham - (360) 734-8830.
  2. Camp for approximately $20 per night at Larrabee State Park, located 5 miles south of AAI right on the beach.
  3. There are plenty of vacation rental cabins in the town of Glacier, 20 minutes from Mount Baker Ski Area. See Mount Baker Lodging for cabin options. There is usually a two-night minimum.

 

Please note:  Lecture spaces, morning briefings, and evening analysis and discussion sessions will meet in a variety of locales, including Bellingham and Glacier, WA. It is best to make your accommodations in Bellingham for at least the first night before the course, then you are welcome to make them for somewhere between Bellingham and Glacier for the remaining evenings. Lodging at the Mountaineers Lodge or camping at the Ski Area is not recommended as the class will be meeting lower on the mountain and you will need to drive back into town before heading out to the field.

Avalanche Training - AIARE 2

Equipment

Snow science practitioners and others who travel in avalanche terrain need to carry a variety of specialized gear.  A full, printable equipment list can be downloaded at right.  The AAI Equipment Shop sells and rents all of this gear, including specially selected Guides Choice products and kits that have been vetted and approved by our guide staff. 

Minimalist Snow Study Kit

Avy 2 - Snow Study Kit

A field book, crystal card, thermometer, and loupe are all you need to gather data in the course of day tours in the backcountry.

Many snow study kits are designed as marketing devices to sell as much gear as possible. Our kit is based on the gear our guides actually carry in the field. As guides who use snow science in the course of actual backcountry travel (as opposed to full-time avalanche control operations), we recommend a stripped-down kit that will actually make it into your pack when you leave the parking lot.

Click here to learn more about or buy our Minimalist Snow Study Kit.

American Avalanche Association SWAG

Required for the Level II course, this document was produced through the cooperative efforts of the American Avalanche Association and the Forest Service National Avalanche Center. Among other things, it aims to set standards for observing and collecting avalanche data in the U.S. 

Click here to buy the SWAG.

Avalanche Safety Gear Rentals

Rental pricing for three days in the field is as follows:
Avalanche Kit (beacon, probe, shovel): $50
Beacon only: $35
Probe only: $15
Shovel only: $12
We have packs and ski poles available to rent as well.

WE NOW HAVE BACKCOUNTRY SKIS!
The AAI Equipment Shop now has a great selection of Dynafit skis and boots to suit your backcountry rental needs!

WE ALSO HAVE SPLITBOARDS!
If you are a snowboarder and would like to venture into the backcountry, you can rent our boards and use your boots!

Once you are enrolled in a course with AAI, you are then eligible for a 15% discount on all rentals and regular priced retail merchandise.

See AAI rental pricing sheet or contact our shop at 360-671-1570 for more information.

Please note that rental equipment availability is limited, so be sure to contact the Shop early to reserve your gear!

There are also skis and snowboards available for rent at the Glacier Ski Shop at 360-599-1943.

Avalanche Training - AIARE 2

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