Backcountry Ski Course with Avalanche 1 Training

COVID-19 UPDATE:  AAI has reopened as of June 20, with new policies and procedures for COVID-19. Click the following links to learn more about AAI's COVID-19 Operating Plans and cancellation policy.


Anyone who is planning on venturing into the backcountry without a professional guide or instructor needs a broad base of skills – everything from how to use climbing skins to an understanding of snow stability and avalanche safety. Depending on your goals and objectives, knowing how to build an improvised snow shelter and having experience camping in the snow and having technical rescue skills could be important too. This is why we offer a wide range of courses in the Cascades during the winter. 

With the updates and changes to the AIARE Curriculum (see the AIARE Rec 1 page for more information), we have also updated the ways that you can combine avalanche training with backcountry skiing and winter mountaineering instruction.

Below is a flowchart showing AAI's different winter course options, and how to progress from one to another as your skills, abilities, and knowledge grow.

 Winter Progression Flowchart


With the skills and tools learned in these courses, you'll be able to start venturing out into the backcountry on your own with confidence, and by then end you should have the ability to handle just about any kind of terrain.

With this in mind, we have tried to schedule certain groups of programs in blocks of days so that you can flow from one into the next with little-to-no interruption. 


Winter Comprehensive Part 1:

By linking together the Backcountry Ski Intro Course (or the Splitboard Intro Course), the AIARE Rec 1, and the AIARE Rescue day, you'll have all of the fundamental skills to start traveling in the backcountry and making smart decisions about moving through avalanche terrain. This is a great grouping of courses for skiers and riders who have significant in-bounds experience, but are just looking to make those first tracks beyond the ski area ropes.

Winter Comprehensive Part 2:

The next main bundling of courses combines the Winter Camping Course, the Advanced Backcountry Skiing or Advanced Splitboarding Course, and the AIARE Rec 2 Course. This combination will give skiers and riders the skills to start going out on multi-day tours, hitting bigger slopes, and dealing with more complex avalanche terrain. 

Winter Comprehensive Part 3:

The third step in our course progression has multiple options, depending on your experience level with skiing or mountaineering:

3a:  Ski Mountaineering Course - This course teaches you the fundamental skills to ski and splitboard on glaciated peaks. You'll learn how to ski roped up, rappel with your skis, build anchors with your skis, do crevasse rescue with your skis, and more. Click on the Course name above to read more about the program.

3b:  Extreme Ski Course - This course will teach you many of same skills as you would learn in the Ski Mountaineering Course, but instead of focusing on glaciated terrain, it is more centered on teaching you the skills to access and descend steep, alpine lines.

3c:  The final option is also the final segment of our Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership Course. This is a 12-day program that combines the Ski Mountaineering curriculum with technical mountaineering skills for rock and ice for an extended multi-day winter alpine traverse. Students wishing to participate in this section will need to either have completed Parts 1 - 3 of the AMTL curriculum or have significant prior mountaineering experience. Please contact our office for more details.


Skiing steep terrain in the backcountry.

Skiing steep terrain in the backcountry.  Danny Uhlmann

Backcountry Ski Course with Avalanche 1 Training

Curriculum Options

Avalanche awareness is of paramount importance in the mountains.

The linked programs follow a logical progression and each new step builds upon the skills and knowledge that was gained in earlier portions. 

By combining together several of our stand-alone courses, you can create a more comprehensive program to give you the skills that you need. If you are new to winter travel, you could combine an Intro to Backcountry Skiing Course with an AIARE Rec 1 Course and an AIARE Rescue Skills Course. Maybe you already took your Rec 1 and are looking to kick your skills up a notch and go on some longer, multi-day tours. In that case, the Winter Camping and the AIARE Rec 2 Courses might be the best match for you. You can combine the courses to make a custom program to fit your needs, whatever they may be.


Backcountry Ski Course with Avalanche 1 Training

Dates and Details

Most of the combination options are based around either an AIARE Rec 1 or Rec 2 course, and the majority of those are scheduled to run Friday - Sunday. With that in mind, we have scheduled Intro to Backcountry courses on Thursdays right before the AIARE Rec 1s, and also on Sundays so they can be taken the weekend before the Rec 1.

In a similar manner, the AIARE Rescue Courses are typically scheduled for Mondays (so that they can be taken right after an AIARE Rec 1) and Saturdays (so that people can take the course on the weekend and don't have to miss school or work). We also have some scheduled for Thursdays, so that it can be taken right before a Rec 2 course.

To plan your course, please follow these steps:

1.  Start with finding a Rec 1 or Rec 2 Avalanche Course (whichever is the basis for your desired combination) that fits your schedule.

2.  Look at schedule for the other programs that you'd like to combine the Avalanche Course with, then find dates for those that work with your schedule. As mentioned above, you can pick a date that is immediately before/after the Avalanche Course, or you can pick one that falls on a weekend. Repeat this step for all the other programs in your desired combination (all dates for the individual courses are listed on their own web pages).

Feel free to call or email if you need assistance grouping together your desired programs.

3.  Once you have your dates figured out, click on the Register Online button on the right side of this page and fill out our Online Registration Form. On the form, indicate that you are signing up for a Combo course, enter your over-all start and finish dates, and then list out the specific courses in the notes section.



See the chart on the "Curriculum Options" tab for pricing. 

Minimum of 2 participants per section, per per group. Prices are available for private participants.  Contact us for details.


Max Ratio

Technical ski/ splitboard/ mountaineering programs - 4:1 
Avalanche Courses - 6:1



Please see the individual course pages for each of their prerequisites.

Backcountry Ski Course with Avalanche 1 Training

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