For advanced backcountry skiers and riders venturing deeper into the backcountry.

AIARE Avalanche EducationThe AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course – Evaluating Snow Stability & Avalanche Hazard is excellent continuing education for advanced backcountry skiers and riders, especially those who venture deeper into the backcountry or recreate in areas without a local avalanche bulletin. It is also an important stepping stone for aspiring outdoor leaders and ski guides.

Our nationally recognized instructors and unmatched learning environment (i.e. incredible ski terrain!) will provide the best possible education experience during your AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course. All instructors are AIARE Level 2 Course Instructors and AAA Professional Members, and course leaders are highly recognized in their fields:

  • Erik Leidecker  20+ years of ski guiding experience, IFMGA Mountain Guide, AMGA Ski Mountaineering Guide Examiner, guide and former Operations Manager for Sun Valley Heli Ski.
  • Chris Lundy  15+ years of professional avalanche forecasting experience, MS in Snow Science, former Director of the Sawtooth Avalanche Center, avalanche education contributor to Backcountry Magazine, AAA Certified Instructor.
  • Sara Lundy  10+ years of backcountry and heli ski guiding experience. AMGA Aspirant Ski Guide, AIARE 3 Certified, AAA Professional Member.

During this intensive four day course, you will learn the requisite skills to becoming a proficient snowpack observer, backcountry tour leader, and budding avalanche forecaster. In the classroom, you will learn about mountain weather, snowpack processes, and avalanche fracture mechanics. During field tours you will review avalanche rescue techniques, learn critical snowpack and weather observation skills, and document your observations using industry standards. Additionally, you’ll learn advanced terrain management and tour leadership techniques. You’ll put all these skills to use each day during morning avalanche forecasting and afternoon hazard assessment group discussions.

  • Facilitate and participate in group discussions focused on evaluating the avalanche hazard and creating terrain options to reduce the avalanche risk.
  • Form and communicate a personal opinion regarding the primary avalanche concern and compare this to the public bulletin and / or the expert estimation of the avalanche problem.
  • Use pre-trip and post-trip checklists as tools to evaluate the avalanche hazard, to target field observations, and to assess terrain options.
  • Observe and record daily field weather, snow, and avalanche observations using SWAG guidelines.
  • Observe and record a test snow profile and column tests to SWAG standards.
  • Observe how the mountain snowpack varies significantly over terrain.
  • Perform advanced companion rescue skills including multiple burial recovery, triage methods, deep burial recovery, and leadership during an avalanche rescue response.

Day 1:

  • Course Introduction and Outcomes
  • Pre-Course Exercise and Level 1 Review
  • Avalanche Rescue Review
  • Field: Companion Rescue, Multiple Burial Techniques and Scenarios
  • Mountain Weather and Formation of Snow in the Atmosphere

Day 2:

  • Mountain Snowpack Processes: Layering and Metamorphism
  • Snowpack Observations and Recording Standards
  • Field: Full Snow Profiles and Snowpack Observations
  • Snow Profile Documentation

Day 3:

  • Avalanche Formation and Release
  • Field Ski Tour: Targeted Snowpack Observations and Snowpit Tests
  • Applying Observations to Field Decisions

Day 4:

  • Trip Planning and Choosing Terrain
  • Field Ski Tour: Targeted Observations / Applying Observations to Field Decisions
  • Course Close and Debrief
  • Course ends 4:30pm

 Difficulty: Good fitness, previous backcountry ski/snowboard experience

 Duration: 4 days/40 hours

 Meeting Time: 8am

 Meeting Location: Sawtooth Mountain Guides Headquarters in Stanley

 What We Provide:

  • Highly trained, experienced, and professional instructors – all are AIARE Level 2 Instructors and AAA Professional Members
  • AIARE Level 2 Course Manual and Field Notebook
  • Avalanche rescue equipment if needed

 What You Need:

  • Previous Level 1 Avalanche Course – we recommend a season’s experience since your Level 1
  • Alpine touring, telemark, or split-board equipment
  • Backcountry skiing clothing and equipment
  • Review the full equipment list
  • Food and lodging in Stanley. We recommend the Stanley Town Square (same building as class) or  Jerry’s Cabins and Motel

 Why take your avalanche course from Sawtooth Mountain Guides?

  • Experience. We began teaching avalanche courses nearly 30 years ago!
  • Instructors. Our instructors are highly-trained and nationally-recognized avalanche professionals with years of guiding, ski patrolling, and avalanche forecasting experience.
  • AIARE Curriculum. AIARE courses are developed by a nation-wide collaboration of avalanche experts and are professionally reviewed.
  • Unmatched Venue. We offer courses at the Williams Peak Hut, where avalanche terrain right out the door maximizes field time. Courses based in Stanley or Ketchum/Sun Valley benefit from contrasting snow climates within a short distance from classroom locations.
  • Fun: Avalanche education doesn’t need to be dry and boring. Our friendly and engaging instructors will keep things interesting, and our world-class terrain is sure to provide some exciting skiing!

 Dates: February 22-25, 2018 

Ratio: 5:1

 Rates: $575/person