AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course – Stanley

Learn the key elements of making sound decisions while traveling in avalanche terrain.

This AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course – Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain course will teach you trip planning and preparation, interpretation of the avalanche bulletin, observational techniques for snowpack, weather, and avalanches, terrain analysis, travel techniques, and decision-making fundamentals. Students will also learn the elements of avalanche rescue and practice using realistic scenarios. This course follows the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) curriculum and is taught by AIARE Qualified Instructors. In addition to the field learning, this course requires 5-7 hours of online learning.

Is this course right for me? This course is targeted for new backcountry skiers and riders who are familiar with their equipment. Participants must have enough backcountry touring experience to feel comfortable moving around in winter backcountry conditions and be able to ski and ride black diamond runs in-bounds at a resort. If you are unfamiliar with your equipment or uncertain about your skiing and riding ability, please consider taking an Intro to Backcountry Course or contact with questions. Without these skills it is difficult to absorb the curriculum of a Level 1 Avalanche Course.

Our nationally recognized instructors and unmatched learning environment (i.e. incredible ski terrain!) will provide the best possible education experience during your AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course. This course is based in Stanley. We also offer courses based in Ketchum/Sun Valley and Boise. Let us teach you how to minimize your risk while maximizing your skiing or riding!

  • PREPARE for backcountry travel by tracking conditions, investigating trip options and practicing rescue during realistic scenarios.
  • Develop a trip PLAN utilizing the current avalanche advisory.
  • Apply the RIDE SAFELY checklist to monitor conditions and communicate associated hazard and risk with your group.
  • Apply the RIDE SAFELY checklist to recognize avalanche terrain and choose terrain that matches the current conditions and skills of the group.
  • Contribute to a TEAM that travels and decides together, listens to every voice, challenges assumptions and respects any veto.
  • Routinely instigate and participate in a group DEBRIEF to intentionally develop experience.
  • Create a plan for continuing development of skills and experience.

Prior to the course: 5-7 hours of online learning prior to the course

Day 1:

  • Course Introduction and Outcomes
  • Introduction to the AIARE Risk Management Framework
    • Track the Season’s Changes
    • Investigate Trip Options
    • Avalanche Rescue
  • Field: Avalanche Rescue

Day 2:

  • PLAN:
    • Assemble Your Group
    • Anticipate the Hazard
    • Plan Your Route
    • Discuss Your Emergency Plan
  • RIDE SAFELY Checklist
  • Field Ski Tour: Observational Techniques, Snowpack Tests, Avalanche Terrain

Day 3:

  • Field Ski Tour: Putting It All Together – Practicing the AIARE Framework
  • Course Wrap Up and Evaluation
  • Course ends 4:30pm


  • Good fitness
  • Advanced downhill ski skills: Ability to regularly ski black diamond runs at a ski resort
  • 5 days of previous backcountry skiing experience or completion of either of SMG’s Sun Valley Intro To Backcountry or Bogus Basin Intro To Backcountry courses.
  • Proficiency using backcountry skiing equipment (skins, bindings, boots, etc…i.e. the course will not be your first time using your gear in the backcountry)

 Duration: 3 days/24 hours

 Meeting Time: 8am

 Meeting Location: Classroom sessions will be at our Stanley office. Field sessions will be held at a combination of locations on Galena Pass and Banner Summit.

 What We Provide:

  • Highly trained, professional, and fun AIARE avalanche instructors
  • AIARE Level 1 Course Manual and Field Notebook
  • Avalanche rescue equipment if needed

 What You Need:

 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. 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 and riding!


  • January 4-6, 2025
  • January 11-13, 2025
  • January 20-22, 2025
  • February 17-19, 2025
  • March 1-3, 2025

Ratio: 5:1

 Stanley: $635/person

 This can be taught as a Private Course. From a recreational perspective, we’ve found that taking a course with your regular touring partners can be more effective and fun. Your group will come away from a course speaking a common language, having practiced similar skills, and ready to use a shared risk management process.