AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course – Stanley/Sun Valley

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

The AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course – Analyzing Snow Stability & Avalanche Hazard is for advanced backcountry skiers and riders, especially those who venture deeper into the backcountry or recreate in areas without a local avalanche bulletin.

The AIARE Level 2 was recently shortened to three days and re-designed specifically to meet the needs of advanced recreational students. Based on new guidelines from the American Avalanche Association, there are now separate tracks for recreational and professional avalanche education. You can read more about the split here. If you’ve been deterred in the past from taking a Level 2 because you felt it was a semi-professional course and/or too heavily focused on snow science, now is the time to sign up!

The AIARE Level 2 builds on the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in the AIARE Level 1 and adds to it the evaluation of critical hazard assessment factors. In the pre-course learning and throughout the field days, you will learn about mountain weather and key snowpack processes. During field tours you will learn critical snowpack and weather observation skills, advanced terrain management, and tour leadership techniques.

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 our Course Leaders are highly recognized in the avalanche profession.

Prerequisites for this course:

  • Completion of a Level 1 Course
  • Completion of the new Avalanche Rescue Course. If you haven’t taken an Avalanche Rescue Course since the curriculum was updated in 2017, there is one scheduled the day before this course. 
  • Completion of 5-7 hours of pre-course learning. This will be sent to you a month prior to the start of your course.
  • Ability to comfortably ski/ride black diamond runs in-bounds at a resort
  • As a facilitator of a group, apply The AIARE Framework to plan a trip, communicate, manage risk, and reflect on the trip.
  • PREPARE for backcountry travel each season by practicing rescue skills and by developing a personal catalog of terrain options.
  • Create a PLAN with the advisory or available relevant data that minimizes risk while traveling in avalanche terrain.
  • Apply the RIDE SAFELY checklists to evaluate conditions and facilitate the process of communicating hazard and risk within a group.
  • Apply the RIDE SAFELY checklists to evaluate avalanche terrain and choose terrain that matches the conditions and skills of the group.
  • Promote discussion within a team that travels together, decides together, listens to every voice, challenges assumptions, and respects any veto.
  • Facilitate a DEBRIEF that summarizes conditions, reviews decisions, and discusses ways to improve the plan in order to intentionally develop experience.
  • Develop a plan that assesses personal knowledge, skills and abilities and creates a strategy for continued development and learning.

Pre-Course Learning: 

  • 5-7 hours of online learning prior to the course

Day 1 – The Changing Mountain Snowpack:

  • Course Introduction and Outcomes
  • The AIARE Risk Management Framework
  • Sources of Uncertainty
    • Track the Season’s Conditions
    • Season Snowpack History
    • Local Weather Resources
  • PLAN Your Trip
  • Field: Test Snowpack Profiles, RIDE SAFELY Checklist

Day 2 – Making Quality Observations:

    • Trip Options Catalog
    • Avalanche Problems and Terrain Selection
  • PLAN Your Trip
  • Field: Practice Snowpack Tests, Analyzing Terrain and Consequences, RIDE SAFELY

Day 3 – Applying Observations to Field Decisions:

  • PLAN Your Trip
  • Field: Putting It All Together – Manage Your Team in Avalanche Terrain
  • Course Close and Debrief
  • Course ends 4:30pm

 Difficulty: Good fitness, previous backcountry ski/snowboard experience

 Duration: 3 days/24 hours

 Meeting Time: 8am

 Meeting Location: Classroom sessions will be classroom based, location TBD. Field learning will be held at a combination of locations on Galena Pass and Banner Summit.

 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
  • Avalanche Rescue Course taken since 2017. If you don’t meet this prerequisite, there is a Rescue Course scheduled for the day before this program.
  • Alpine touring, telemark, or split-board equipment. Our curriculum is designed around skiing and riding so we cannot accommodate snowshoes in this course.
  • Backcountry skiing clothing and equipment
  • Review the full equipment list
  • Be sure to read our Preparing For Your Avalanche Course page
  • Food and lodging in Stanley. We recommend the Stanley Town Square or  Lower Stanley 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.  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 20-22, 2024
  • February 10-12, 2024

Ratio: 5:1

 Rates: $620/person