Avalanche Pro 2 Certification Course


Please note, this course is sponsored by American Alpine Institute and is directly run by American Avalanche Institute instructors. It follows the curriculum guidelines set out by the American Avalache Association (A3).

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This course is the highest level of formal avalanche training in the U.S.. This course is designed for avalanche workers moving into leadership roles within their operations or for experienced workers who desire to continue to develop their risk management leadership skills. The course progresses beyond hazard analysis and moves into avalanche forecasting for different avalanche problems, snow climates and operations. The course will advance the skills for both mitigation-based and avoidance-based avalanche professionals. The tools taught and practiced will apply equally well for ski patrollers, guides, outdoor educators, public avalanche forecasters, and highway program personnel. The course will also address the distinctions between “mitigators” and guides and add tools for both sets to use. Approximately half of the course is classroom based and half is field based. We will travel in the backcountry, in and around avalanche terrain.

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 Pro 1 certification course, including standardizing snow and weather observations and techniques to the Snow, Weather, and American Avalanche Association LogoAvalanche Guidelines of the American Avalanche Association (A3).  The 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.

Pro 2 Student Learning Outcomes

  • Improved understanding of snowpack formation & metamorphism
  • An overview of current understanding of avalanche release (related back to what practitioners can readily observe in the field)
  • Understanding, and accounting for, spatial variability
  • Strengths and limitations of stability tests
  • Professional standard of recording data and record keeping.
  • Creating personal/professional forecasts and nowcasts based on available information
  • Making operational decisions based upon avalanche hazard analysis
  • Recognizing trends and patterns in stability
  • Efficient & accurate route-finding and group management in complex terrain
  • Human factors that influence decision-making as professionals and recreationists
  • Technical report writing

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

The 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 Pro 2 Certification Course




A3 Curriculum Transition

The 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 Pro 2 by submitting an online application which documents they have met the prerequisites listed below:

  • Students must have a Pro 1 certificate or Professional Level 1 Bridge Course (Bridge courses only available 17/18 and 18/19 seasons)
  • Students must have an A3-recognized Avalanche Rescue Course
  • Students must provide proof of payment of the A3 Pro Course Student Fee
  • Students must have a minimum of one season between taking the Pro 1 and the Pro 2 in order to provide enough time between to apply the tools and strategies learned on the Pro 1
  • 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 full snow pit profiles
    • Two operational meeting forms
    • Two pages from two days of field observations


Recommended Reading

  • Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, Bruce Tremper
  • Snow, Weather and Avalanches: Observational Guidelines for Avalanche Programs in the United States (SWAG)
  • The Avalanche Review (AAA)


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

Avalanche Pro 2 Certification Course

Course Structure

Below is a sample of a possible itinerary for the course. Please note that this is subject to change based on weather, snow pack, avalanche conditions, and instructors. 

Sample Itinerary:

Day 1: Intro Evening Zoom Meeting; 6pm – 8pm

  • 6:00 – Course Intro, Goals, Expectations, Course Logistics for tomorrow and beyond, Q&A, weather stations, weather and avalanche forecasts, season history – current problems/state of the snow pack, significant events, and review of AM form
  • 8:00 – End of Day

Day 2: Field Day; 7:30am –  5:30pm | Field Obs and Troubleshooting

  • 7:30 – Meet @ trailhead, Morning Avalanche Hazard Assessment, Shakedown tour with appropriate snow obs, Ongoing snow, weather and avalanche observations
  • 2:00 – Meet at Classroom, Share concise obs and fill in collective PM form, Mechanics Review, Q&A, Review Ops ex specifics
  • 5:30 – End of Day

Homework: Complete PM form and start AM form

Day 3: Field Day; 7:30am – 5pm | Operations Exercise and Avalanche Atlas

  • 7:30 – Meet @ trailhead, Morning Hazard Assessment (Student-Led), Tour to Ops ex location, ongoing snowpack and terrain obs
    Collect Data and pictures for ops ex
  • 3:30 – Return to trailhead, Share concise obs, Q&A, Day 3 logistics
  • 5:00 – End of Day

Homework: PM Form, Prep for AM Form, Ops Exercise/Avalanche Atlas, Tour plan for tomorrow, Submit: Field book photos (snow obs and observation rose) 

Day 4: Field Day; 7:30am – 4:00pm | Public/Operational Forecasting

  • 7:30 – Meet @ trailhead, Morning Hazard Assessment, Ops ex Q&A, Multi-Aspect and Multi-elevation tour, Review obs,
    2:00 – Return to trailhead, Share concise obs between field groups, Using CMAH to discern avalanche hazard discussion, Discussion about crafting a well-crafted bottom line, Q&A from Day, Logistics for tomorrow
  • 4:00 – End of Day

Homework: Complete PM Form, Tour Plan, Finish Ops Exercise, Submit: PM Form, Ops Exercise

Day 5: Field Day; 7:30am – 12:30pm | Forecasting Continued

  • 7:30 – Meet @ trailhead, AM Hazard Assessment, Morning tour, Share concise obs between field groups
  • 12:30 End of Day

Homework: Finish Technical Report, Craft bottom line statement/operational summary, 3 Questions, Submit: Bottom line/operational summary, Any missing documents

Day 6: Field Day; 7:30am – 5:00pm | Organized Rescue – Moving Groups Through Avalanche Terrain

  • 8:00 – Meet at Classroom, AM Hazard assessment, Q&A, logistics, Risk Management class and Legal Case Study Review, Storm Profile Exercise, Introduction to SAR Response scenario
    1:00 – Meet at trailhead, SAR Call out, Student-planned travel to location and facilitate rescue/recovery, Complete accident investigation, Photos, Avalanche info, Snow Analysis
    5:00 – End of Day

Homework: Complete accident short form and submit

Day 7: Field Day; 7:30am – 3:00pm | Technical Reports and Final Exam

  • 8:00 – Meet at Classroom, Oral presentations, Stump the Chumps, Q&A, Course Debrief
  • 1:00 – Final Exam link shared
  • 3:00 – Final Exam submitted, Course Close


Assessment Criteria

Pro 2 students are eligible for certification after:

  • 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.

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%

Avalanche Pro 2 Certification Course

Dates and Details


  • 2024/2025 Dates TBD

Starts with an online meeting on the first evening, then the remaining field days will be near the Mt. Baker backcountry.


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 American Avalanche Institute's recommended equipment for the course.

Avalanche Pro 2 Certification Course

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