Peak Mountain Guides
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AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course
Award Winning AIARE 1 Course With An Emphasis On Field Time

Other Ski Programs: Alaska Ski Mountaineering | Guided Backcountry Skiing 

                                AIARE Level 2 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 |

avalanche course photo



Alpine Highlights

Location:   Ouray, CO and Red Mountain Pass


  • December 15-17, 2017

  • December 22-24, 2017

  • December 29-31, 2017

  • January 5-7, 2018

  • January 13-15, 2018

  • February 9-11, 2018

  • February 17-19, 2018

  • March 2-4, 2018

  • March 9-11, 2018

  • March 16-18, 2018
  • Custom dates available upon request

Cost: $369.00 per person

Cost includes: 3 days of instruction with AMGA/AIARE qualified instructors/guides, student manual, AIARE field book, AIARE rescue card, certificate of completion, 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 the winter backcountry (see equipment list below). Alpine touring boots, skis, skins, and poles are available for rent from our shop.

Prerequisites: No prerequisites.

Student to instructor ratio: 6:1 with maximum group size of 12.



Register Now using our online registration system.





    "The Level 1 Avalanche Course was very informative and all the information from the classroom was applied in the field.  It provided a great hands-on opportunity to learn and retain the information about avalanche safety."
    Grant G.

    AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course Participant


"One of the top avalanche courses in America for adventure seekers."

Curbed Ski Magazine

January 2015

"The Avy 1 with Peak Mountain Guides in Ouray, Colorado was one of the best courses I have ever taken.  I am so glad I took this course and will definitely use Peak Mountain Guides again for future backcountry courses."

Clair C.

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course Participant

"The instructor was extremely knowledgeable and created a very positive classroom and field environment.  Overall, this course was flawless."

Tyler R.

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course Participant

"The Avy 1 class with Peak Mountain Guides has really helped my confidence and I will be out there much more. You probably hear it often but the instructor was truly a great teacher."

Vicki L.

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course Participant

"The AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course with Peak Mountain Guides was by far and away the best backcountry professional development course I have ever taken."

Cullen H.

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course Participant


Award Winning Curriculum Design
Our AIARE Level 1 avalanche course was ranked "One of the Top Avalanche Courses in America for Adventure Seekers" by Curbed Ski Magazine for its hands-on, field based curriculum. We built this award winning program with input from AIARE Instructor Team Members, AMGA Ski Guides, and avalanche course students in order to provide what students say they want most: more field time than classroom, more opportunities to perform snowpack tests and link the results to real decisions in the field, more time spent on real backcountry ski tours, and helpful feedback from skilled instructors. We have taken these real life requests to create the most hands-on, student centered, and practical AIARE Level 1 avalanche course available today.  

Field Time On Every Day Of The Course

We have field sessions on Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado on every day of our AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course.  This gives you an opportunity to get hands-on practice, in the field, every single day.  It also keeps the classroom sessions to a reasonable length so you will be able to absorb and retain the information that is presented. Additionally, the field venues are located just a short drive from the classroom. This minimizes travel time so your course hours are spent learning content in the field.

Experienced, Highly Qualified Instructors
Our avalanche staff has been hand picked for their depth of experience as professionals in the snow and avalanche industry, and for their welcoming, approachable demeanor as instructors. They include AIARE Instructor Trainer Team members, AMGA certified ski guides, avalanche forecasters, ski patrollers, and AIARE qualified instructors. It is our goal to provide you with a thorough avalanche education that emphasizes safety, learning new skills, and having fun along the way. You will expand your avalanche skills and knowledge through a variety of thoughtfully designed lessons and activities, and a refined professional will be at your side throughout your journey of learning. 

No Hidden Fees or Surcharges

There are no hidden fees or surcharges on any of our courses. The course price is what you pay, and that's it. All course materials are provided free of charge including a student handbook, AIARE waterproof field book, AIARE waterproof rescue card, and certificate of completion.

Backcountry Skiing & Snowboarding Skills

Our course is an immersive, field based program that covers backcountry skiing and snowboarding skills for travel in and around avalanche terrain. You will learn techniques for up/down transitions, navigation, AVA and kick turning, tracksetting, time planning, powder skiing, and special tricks for touring efficiency.


AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course Description (from AIARE)
Our Level 1 Avalanche Course is a 3-day (24 hour) introduction to avalanche hazard management, with an emphasis on decision making.  At the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:
  • Recognize different avalanche types and their characteristics
  • Understand metamorphism and layering in the mountain snowpack
  • Prepare for travel in avalanche terrain using maps, trip planning tools, the avalanche bulletin and the avalanche danger scale
  • Identify avalanche terrain in the field
  • Use snowpack tests including the compression test, tilt test and/or Rutschblock test to locate layers in the snowpack and identify avalanche problems described in the avalanche bulletin
  • Use routefinding and travel techniques to minimize risk while traveling
  • Use teamwork and communication to mitigate human factors in your group
  • Carry out a companion rescue with a beacon, shovel, and probe
  • Use decision making tools including the Avalanches & Observations Reference and the AIARE Decision Making Framework.


Level 1 Avalanche Course Sample Itinerary
The course takes place from 8-6 each day, with a one-hour break for lunch.

Day 1:
We meet at the Peak Mountain Guides office in Ouray, CO at 8:00 am and begin with introductions and an overview of the course. The remaining morning is spent introducing avalanche types and characteristics, avalanche terrain, metamorphism and layering in the mountain snowpack, and companion rescue. 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 companion rescue.

Day 2:
We meet at 8:00 for a morning classroom session. The day's topics include avalanche danger factors and red flags, human factors and teamwork, 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 make snowpack observations, practice terrain selection, and learn snowpack tests. We'll return to the classroom in the late afternoon to debrief our tour and for one more classroom session on trip planning and preparation.

Day 3:
We meet at 8:00 to review the daily avalanche bulletin and to create a trip plan for the day. Using our observations of the previous day and information from the avalanche bulletin, we will be able to make informed terrain choices for our tour. Using maps and local knowledge to select a reasonable outing for the day, we'll also build in options and escapes for easier or safer tours in the event we find different conditions than expected. During this final day the emphasis is on application of skills and knowledge, and students will have the opportunity to make terrain choices, do the routefinding for the group, and employ travel techniques—all with valuable coaching and feedback from the instructor.


*Peak Mountain Guides AIARE Level 1 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