Avalanche Pro 1 Certification Course


These courses are hosted by American Alpine Institute, but administered by American Avalanche Institute instructors, one of only 6 organizations in the US that have been vetted and approved by the American Avalanche Association (A3) to provide Professional-Level avalanche training. 

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The Pro 1 Course is the first of the Professional Courses and is based on the traditional Level 2, with the addition of an evaluation.

The course introduces participants to team decision making in the avalanche workplace. It provides essential training for those working or planning to work as a ski patrol on the avalanche control team, or as an assistant heli or cat skiing guide, or snow observer for the local avalanche advisory, or as a highways avalanche technician. Students will participate in daily operation meetings, collecting and analyze data and evidence in the field, effectively assessing and communicating hazard and risk factors, and travel safely through avalanche terrain.

Following the Pro 1 Course, mountain and snow professionals should progress to the 6-day Pro 2 course, which replaces the old Level 3.

AAA Curriculum Transition

If you took a Level 1 course and a Level 2 course prior to the 17/18 season, according to the new curriculum guide you next step would be to take the Avalanche Rescue Course. After you take the Rescue course, you can go on to the Pro 1.

The Pro 1 course is a Pass/Fail course and is designed to train and certify workers new to the avalanche industry (educators, patrollers, guides, forecasters). It will cover skills essential to the workplace including conducting weather, snow and avalanche observations, making an assessment of basic hazard and risk factors, participation in team meetings, succinctly communicating observations in the field, and applying basic safe travel protocols in avalanche terrain.


Avalanche Pro 1 Certification Course


Student requirements for enrollment in a Pro 1:

  • Completion of an A3 recognized Level 1 course for student pursuing the Professional track.
  • Completion of  an A3 recognized Avalanche Rescue course.
  • Minimum of one season between the Recreational Level 1 & Professional Level 1 used to apply the tools and strategies learned on a level 1.
  • One winter season (20 days or more) of relevant experience, demonstrated through one of the following:
    • Prior avalanche work experience or
    • A supervised unpaid work internship in the guiding/avalanche industry, supported by a letter of reference or
    • Winter backcountry travel experience supported by documented trip planning and recorded field observations that contributed to avalanche hazard assessment and personal avalanche risk management or
    • Letter of Recommendation from professional member or
    • AAA Membership, Affiliate or Professional


Reading List:

  • Level 1 Student Manual
  • Level 2 Student Manual/Workbook
  • Snow, Weather and Avalanches: Observation Guidelines, Published AAA, 2016 edition (SWAG)
  • Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, Bruce Tremper

Avalanche Pro 1 Certification Course

Course Goals

  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge of avalanche formation and release
  • Conduct study plot weather observations. Identify relevant weather trends
  • Conduct a snow profile. Choose a relevant test location and identify important layer and interface characteristics. Document using a snow profile form or digital drafting program
  • Conduct a compression test and identify fracture character
  • Conduct an ECT and PST and identify propensity for crack propagation in the weak layer
  • Observe and record avalanche occurrences. Identify important avalanche hazard factors that relate to a recent or current avalanche occurrence
  • Assess current avalanche hazard factors and describe the avalanche problem and the avalanche danger trend
  • Communicate the avalanche risk between team members
  • Identify and apply strategies to mitigate bias and other challenges to individual and team decision making
  • Relate the current and forecast avalanche problem to specific slopes and terrain features. As part of a trip plan and in the field, identify both terrain to avoid and terrain with less consequence
  • Identify avalanche paths and describe the terrain characteristics that define the start zone, track, and avalanche run out
  • Travel safely over snow in mountainous terrain

Avalanche Pro 1 Certification Course

Dates & Details

Call for availability

This course starts with an online meeting on the first evening, then the remaining 5 days will be near the Mt. Baker backcountry.





Course Venue

As mentioned above, the field days will be held near the Mt. Baker Ski Area. When the roads are dry and clear during the summer, it is only about an hour drive from Bellingham to Glacier. However, during the winter, the road conditions can be highly variable and it could take much longer for the drive.

With that in mind, you should find lodging somewhere near Glacier for the duration of the course. There are numerous vacation rental cabins, VRBOs and AirBnBs in the Glacier area. It is totally reasonable for the students to band together to rent a cabin for the duration of this course. However, this is not included as part of the course tuition and will not be provided. It is extremely important that your lodging have good access to internet. You will be required to check avalanche and weather forecasts each day of the program, as well as completing route profiles and tour plans in the evenings.


Minimum Enrollment

In order for this course to run as listed, we must get at least 10 students signed up. If this minimum enrollment number is not met by November 19, the course is subject to cancellation.



Instructor fees, land use fees, course materials



Food, lodging, transportation, backcountry travel equipment, personal avalanche safety equipment


Avalanche Pro 1 Certification Course


Course assessment principles adhere to those described in the American Avalanche Association (AAA) Professional Avalanche Training Guidelines and Proficiencies for the PRO 1 Bridge Course.

Students are sent a description of the assessment plan and evaluation criteria prior to the course start date. A course mark of 70% is required to pass.

  • Avalanche rescue skills (pass/fail). This skill is evaluated prior to the course during the Avalanche Rescue course. Students are required to produce the certificate as a requirement for enrollment
  • Observation and Recording (50% of course grade). Students are required to submit documented observations for instructor review prior to the course start date. The students will receive some coaching and direction on the submitted field weather and snow profile observations prior to the start of the course and then again on the first day of the course. Weather and snow profile observations and snowpack tests are reviewed on the first day of the course and the evaluation criteria is explained to each student.
  • Hazard and Risk Analysis Forms and Written Exam (50% of course grade). Students receive both the expectation in the pre course package and a request to submit trip plan or hazard forecast forms for review prior to the course start date. Students receive one opportunity to be coached on the course when they complete a hazard and risk analysis form the first day. Pre course reading and assignments are designed to include topics that will be covered on written exam. Students have the right to retest weather plot and snow profile observations, snowpack tests and the written exam, and can appeal their grades.



Avalanche Pro 1 Certification Course

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