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AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course

An In-Depth, Small Group AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course

Other Ski Programs: Alaska Ski Mountaineering | Guided Backcountry Skiing

                                 AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course | San Juan Hut Skiing Trips

                                Mt. Sneffels Ski Mountaineering Course |

                                Companion Rescue Clinic | Hut Based Level 1 Avalanche Course

                                Intro To Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding Course |

Alpine Highlights

Location:  Ouray, CO and Red Mountain Pass

Dates:  January 26-29, 2017
            February 23-26, 2017

Cost: $499.00 per person

Cost includes: 4 days of instruction in a small group setting; student manual; AIARE field book; Snow, Weather, & Avalanche Guidelines (SWAG) manual; and avalanche safety gear including BCA beacon, shovel, and probe.

Cost does not include: Transportation, food, lodging, personal insurance, travel insurance, gratuities to instructors, and personal equipment for snow study and winter travel (please see equipment list below).  Alpine touring equipment is available for rent from our shop.

Prerequisites: Completion of AIARE level 1 course or equivalent.

Student to instructor ratio: 5:1 with a maximum group size of 5.



Register Now using our online registration system.  




"I am so happy I chose this course.  The small group setting is so important for better learning of the detailed information.  I will be recommending Peak Mountain Guides to all my friends and colleagues."

Matt A.

Level 2 Avalanche Course March 2012

"The instructors were terrific and their extensive knowledge of the subject was apparent.  I also really appreciated the incredible small group size"

Cory J.

Level 2 Avalanche Course February 2011 

"Peak Mountain Guides is a top notch organization who has furthered my knowledge of avalanche awareness in Level 1 and now snow science in Level 2.  I definitely feel more comfortable making decisions based on observation and analysis."

Cullen H.

Level 2 Avalanche Course February 2011

Small Group Size - Maximum of 5 Students

We are the only provider in Colorado to run our Level 2 Avalanche Course as a small group program with a maximum of 5 students.  This allows our students to be involved in data collection and hands-on field practice during every step of the course.  This small group size distinguishes our Level 2 Avalanche Course as one of the most in-depth and hands-on courses available today.

Field Time On Every Day Of The Course

We provide opportunities for you to apply your new skills in the field on every day of the course.  This practical, field based approach is the cornerstone of our curriculum and it is particularly valuable for those who learn best through hands-on practice.  Additionally, the extra field time allows us to keep our classroom sessions to a reasonable length so students are able to absorb and retain the information that is presented. 

Taught by AIARE Qualified Instructors & AMGA Certified Instructors/Guides
Our level 2 avalanche instructors hold AIARE Level 2 Instructor Qualification, AIARE Level 3 certification, and they are AMGA Certified Instructors/Guides.  In addition, they have a special ability to communicate advanced avalanche concepts in a clear, concise, and understandable way. 


AIARE Level 2 Course Description:

Learn To Make A Stability Analysis For Improved Decision Making
Our 4-day (40 hour) Level 2 Avalanche Course teaches you a framework for making observations and a calculated stability analysis - a key skill for those who wish to climb and ski in avalanche terrain. Specifically, you will learn and practice the following concepts and skills:

  • Recognition of avalanche terrain for routefinding, tracksetting, and observations
  • Recognition of factors that contribute to the spatial variability of the snowpack and the use of an avalanche probe for assessing variability over the terrain
  • Learn snowpack tests that evaluate fracture propagation including the Extended Column Test & Propagation Saw Test
  • Learn to evaluate fracture character as a key observation in column tests
  • Learn advanced companion rescue techniques including strategies for multiple burials and deep burials
  • Learn SWAG guidelines for making and recording snowpack, weather, and avalanche observations
  • Learn how snowpack metamorphism pertains to stability analysis and why we take snowpack temperatures
  • Learn a format for snow stability analysis and a framework for effective terrain selection and decision making
  • Learn advanced snow science concepts such as radiation balance, vapor movement and metamorphism of the snowpack, near surface and near crust faceting, and formation of surface hoar and persistent weak layers
  • Learn basic mountain weather as it applies to snow stability
  • Learn to perform a full snow profile that includes layer identification, hardness assessment, grain identification, grain size evaluation, a full temperature profile, and a Yellow Flags evaluation of the findings.
  • Learn trip planning and hazard forecasting using maps, photos, & the avalanche bulletin
  • Learn terrain selection and routefinding methods that emphasize group management, terrain management, and management of human factors


AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course Sample Itinerary

The course takes place from 8-6 each day, with additional evening sessions on days 2 and 3.

Day 1
We will meet at 8:00am at the Peak Mountain Guides office in Ouray, CO.  We'll begin with introductions and an overview of the course. The remaining morning is spent introducing mountain weather as it applies to snow stability, radiation balance and metamorphism of the snowpack, near surface faceting and near crust faceting, and formation of surface hoar and persistent weak layers. These classroom presentations include case studies, powerpoint slideshows, and videos to keep everyone engaged and learning. After a one-hour break for lunch, we drive to Red Mountain Pass for an afternoon field session on advanced companion rescue techniques for multiple burials and deep burials.

Day 2
We meet at 8:00am at the Peak Mountain Guides office in Ouray, CO for another morning classroom session. The day's topics include an introduction to observation and recording guidelines using the SWAG manual, a review of the seasonal snow history of the Northern San Juans, and a look into your instructor's backpack to see what he/she carries during a day of backcountry touring. After a one-hour break for lunch, we drive to Red Mountain Pass for a ski tour to discuss site selection for observations and to practice snow profile techniques for a full profile. We'll return to the classroom for an evening session to debrief our tour, record our observations, and to evaluate our snow profile data using the Yellow Flags checklist.

Day 3
We'll warm up in the classroom by watching a video on Fracture Character, which is a key indicator of instability in small and large column tests. Using our observations from the previous day along with maps, photos, and the avalanche bulletin, we will choose a tour that is appropriate for the conditions and we’ll create a trip plan for the day. Participants will also learn how to calculate a time estimate for the objective using a handy formula. On the tour, we’ll make field weather observations and collect snowpack observations using targeted snowpack tests. We will also discuss the concept of spatial variability and its importance in determining where to gather field observations. The tour will lead us through a diversity of terrain that will enable group members to practice terrain selection and decision making with valuable coaching and feedback from the instructors. We'll return to the classroom in the late afternoon to debrief our tour and to create a fresh stability analysis based on our new observations.

Day 4
We will meet at 8:00 am to review the morning avalanche bulletin and create a trip plan for the day. We’ll then embark on a tour that will be led by the participants of the class. We make sure participants have the opportunity to apply and practice the skills that have been discussed in the previous days of the program, so we go out of our way to build in hands-on learning opportunities throughout the tour. This thoughtful program design and dedication to learning helps participants develop their snow sense, terrain recognition skills, and overall decision making ability. Upon completion of the tour, we’ll go back to the classroom to debrief the experience, answer any final questions, and present each participant with an AIARE Level 2 certificate.

*Peak Mountain Guides AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Courses are located on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests under priority use permit from the Forest Service, USDA.  Peak Mountain Guides is an equal opportunity service provider.*

AMGA Certification
Peak Mountain Guides staff members Angela Hawse, Geoff Unger, and Tim Brown are AMGA certified American Mountain Guides and IFMGA internationally licensed guides.

Peak Mountain Guides LLC | 280 7th Avenue | PO Box 1025 | Ouray, CO 81427 | 970-325-7342 |

IFMGA internationally licensed guides