Avalanche Certification - AIARE Pro 2


Please note, we are not currently running an AIARE-sponsored Pro 2 course. Our Pro 2 is sponsored by the American Avalanche Institute, one of only four organizations certified by the American Avalanche Association (A3) to conduct Pro 2 courses, the highest level of professional avalanche training in the United States.

The AAI Pro 2 course is equivalent to the AIARE Pro 2 and meets the same guidelines set out by A3. Please click here to see more details on the AAI Pro 2 course.


The Pro 2 course is an advanced avalanche certification course for experienced and professional avalanche practitioners, professional guides, patrollers and advanced recreational backcountry travelers. Individuals who successfully complete the course and receive a passing grade (70% or greater) receive a Pro 2 certificate provided by the AIARE administration.

The course provides course participants with an industry based framework to make decisions in avalanche terrain and to manage avalanche hazards common to avalanche control operations and winter guiding scenarios. Participants are required to form opinions, to take on leadership roles, and to utilized team members skills to assist in the process of forecasting avalanche hazard and snow stability and making appropriate terrain choices. Course goals also include evaluating each participant to the AIARE Pro 2 standard.

The Pro 2 course builds on the concepts introduced in the prerequisite AIARE Pro 1 certification course, including standardizing snow and weather observations and techniques to the Snow, Weather, and Avalanche Guidelines of the American Avalanche Association (2010).  The AIARE Pro 2 takes the “trained observer and technician” and begins the process of making the information relevant to the complexities, variability, and influences of terrain.

AIARE Pro 2 Student Learning Outcomes

  • Practice using an avalanche hazard analysis and risk forecasting process.
  • Form opinions about snow stability, avalanche hazard, and operational decisions.
    Each day begins with a forecast, spends time making decisions in the field, and ends with a hazard analysis and review of risk treatment strategies employed. Hazard evaluation and risk treatment decisions are carefully briefed, coached, and debriefed.
  • Improve participants’ observation and recording skills.
  • Improve the participant’s terrain analysis skills
  • Improve decision making in the field.
  • Improve understanding of the creation and metamorphism of the mountain snowpack.
  • Encourage active participation.
  • Advance participant’s companion rescue skills.

Lectures and case studies highlight human factors as they influence the decision making process.
New research is included where relevant.

The AIARE Pro 2 instructors are required to be current with the latest research and educational tools in use by snow avalanche practitioners and instructors. Each course is presented by a variety of experienced instructors including mountain and ski guides, and avalanche professionals whose background includes ski area or highways control procedures.

Avalanche Certification - AIARE Pro 2




AIARE Curriculum Transition

AIARE Pro 2 is a course and exam that requires students to travel safely and efficiently in avalanche terrain. Field days will include travel on rugged terrain up to and exceeding 30 degrees, trail breaking, and 8 hours of travel carrying a day pack with rescue equipment and clothing.



Students register for the AIARE Pro 2 by submitting an online application which documents they have met the prerequisites listed below:

  • Students must have a Pro 1 certificate – starting to be offered in 2017
  • Students must have a AAA-recognized Avalanche Rescue course – also starting to be offered in 2017
  • Students must have a minimum of 40 days of operational experience over two winter seasons, and 
  • Students must have a letter of reference from a supervisor verifying:
    • 40 days minimum work experience, over two operating seasons. This can be in the same calendar year if the worker has worked in both the northern and southern hemispheres. This includes participation as a team member, attending daily ops meetings, and participation in operational activities that require risk management
    • Avalanche rescue (companion) practices with team leader responsibility.  The application has participated in multi-team organized avalanche rescue exercises
    • The applicant is able to complete the tasks required of a route leader or ski guide
  • Student must submit examples of the following professional documentation
    • Two profiles
    • Two operational meeting forms
    • Two pages from two days of field observations


Registration for Pro programs will close when either the class roster is full, or two weeks prior to the program, whichever comes first.

Avalanche Certification - AIARE Pro 2

Course Structure

Course Structure

  1. Pre course study and quiz
  2. Avalanche Terrain.
    – Spatial variability and developing “excellent terrain skills”.
    – Lectures, Case histories, and field terrain discussions
  3. Craftsmanship and professional standards
  4. Review of study plot weather and snow profile techniques
    – Calculating densities
    – Drafting techniques
  5. Review of snow crystals, sub-classifications
  6. Operational stability and hazard forecasting
    – Twice daily meetings: am forecast; evening analysis
    – Operational forms and recording methods
    – Information exchange with nearest neighbor operations
    – Weather forecasting: actual data, upper level data, ridgetop data, weather maps and images, forecasts, storm cycle trends
    – Avalanche path photos and image use
    – Run list use in hazard forecasts
  7. Avalanche safety equipment: burial prevention, reducing burial time, increasing survival time
  8. Companion rescue:
    – Review of pinpointing on a line, multiple burials (3 circle search, micro strip search) techniques, shovel techniques
    – Teaching techniques for patrol and clientele.
  9. Terrain travel and group management
    – Relate the Wx forecast to field weather observation
    – Gathering accurate info while moving through the terrain
    – “Off line” information: quick tests to confirm information known and to reveal variation.
    – Terrain discussions include: targeting known stability issues, anticipating, visualizing where will avalanches occur, where will the fracture occur, triggering, potential size, depth, width, and length.
    – Creating options in the terrain
    – Keeping field decisions consistent with office forecasts
    – Human factors affecting team and team leader decisions
    – Hazard evaluation, control decisions and safety margins
  10. Comparing field tests to study plot information. Including probing, hand tests, bonding tests, test profiles, RB, fracture line profiles, ski tests, etc.
    – Targeting weak layers
    – Stressing site selection/relevancy
    – More info over space to add to baseline data
    – Use of snow profile checklist (“Yellow Flags, Lemons”) to prioritize characteristics
  11. Case Study: Operational decision-making
    – Introduces a model of how decisions are made
    – Reviews terms which include judgment, decision making, common sense, heuristic traps
    – Illustrates human error and heuristic traps with a case study
    – Student groups identify and describe heuristic traps in the case study
    – Describes McCammon’s definitions of Heuristic Traps
    – Concludes with common operational procedures to mitigate human errors.
  12. Preparing for the examination process
    – Describe profile and field weather testing procedures
    – Describe terrain exam procedures
    – Describe written exam procedures
  13. Exam Day
    – Field terrain exam (includes control targets and exercise to illustrate variability)
    – Class terrain exam from photos
    – Weather observations exam
    – Snow profile exam
    – Written exam (includes storm profile analysis)
    – Issuing a public bulletin
  14. Course close
    – Reviews the goals stated by the students at the beginning of the week.
    – Links to continued professional development, skill development, participation in seminars, AAA membership etc.
    – Debriefs student’s strengths and weaknesses
    – Student feedback form


Assessment Criteria

AIARE 3 participants are eligible for certification after:

  • Completing the pre-course reading and quiz.
  • Attending the classroom sessions, completing the homework assignments to a professional level and participating in the group learning sessions.
  • Attending the field sessions and participating in the group discussions and exercises.

AIARE 3 Participants are eligible for certification after attaining the minimum passing grade of 70% in the marking categories:

  1. Avalanche hazard management skills 45%
    – Recognition 15%
    – Analysis 15%
    – Response 15%
  2. Technical Skills and Knowledge 55%
    – Field weather observations and recording 5 %
    – Snowpack observations and tests 20 %
    – Operational forecast and analysis forms 10 %
    – Professional notebook 5 %
    – Final Written Exam 15%


It is required that the AIARE Program Director confirm the resume with references or have the student forward a photocopy of a field notebook illustrating field observations.

Avalanche Certification - AIARE Pro 2

Dates and Details


No current dates available


Bellingham and Mt. Baker Backcountry





Sessions will include both classroom and field time. Please come with your complete backcountry touring kit and observation tools.

Click here for a list of AIARE's recommended equipment for the course.

Avalanche Certification - AIARE Pro 2

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