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AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course

Age Requirement: 16 or accompanied by an adult
Prerequisites: None

Call 303.988.2943 or

Renaissance Adventure Guides is pleased to offer you the opportunity to increase your knowledge of avalanche conditions and safety while recreating in the winter mountain landscape.  Learn about the factors that contribute to avalanches, snow pack analysis, route finding and rescue beacon usage.  The first evening of the course is held at the Rocky Mountain Nature Association in Estes Park, CO. The subsequent weekend sessions are mixed days of field work and classroom lessons in beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park.  Field work occurs outside in any weather conditions so come prepared for anything that Mother Nature might have in store for us.  You will spend time digging snow pits, practicing rescue skills and much more.

When leaving this class you will have a good understanding of the following:

  • Factors that lead to the formation and release of avalanches. 
  • Recognition of avalanche terrain and the terrain factors that make avalanches more or less likely to occur. 
  • Creation of the mountain snowpack and how the layers are formed and change over time. 
  • About the importance of observations and the critical avalanche danger factors we call “red flags.” 
  • The critical role “human factors” play in avalanche incidents and avoiding them.
  • The importance of planning and preparation in creating safe and rewarding back country adventures.
  • Using the local avalanche bulletin in both planning your trip and informing decision making in the field.
  • Integration of your field observations with the avalanche bulletin danger rating to guide terrain selection and route finding.
  • Use of travel techniques to reduce your exposure to risk and/or the consequences of an accident.


Golden, CO and Estes Park, CO

All Golden courses consist of three days: an evening classroom session on Thursday (6pm - 10pm) in Golden, CO, followed by classroom and field work on Saturday and Sunday (8am - 6pm) in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Winter course dates will be available starting Nov. 1st, 2015. Courses run bi-monthly from December through March.


Day 1          6pm-10pm
Evening classroom:
Intro and course goals
The decision making framework
Avalanche types and characteristics
Avalanche terrain
Formation of the mountain snowpack

Day 2          8am-6pm
Classroom session:
Avalanche danger rating scale
Field observation categories
Companion rescue equipment and techniques

Field session:
Demonstration of rescue beacon use
Practice rescue beacon search and rescue scenarios

Day 3          8am-6pm
Classroom session:
Human factors in avalanche incidents
Trip planning and preparation
Decision making
Travel techniques

Field session:
Tour into avalanche terrain
Route finding
Snowpack evaluation and stability testsTravel techniques and group decision making processes


Personal Equipment:

  • Clothing for activities and standing in cold/snowy weather (no cotton) 
  • long underwear 
  • insulating layers 
  • outer layer (wind/waterproof) 
  • warm gloves, mitts, headband, and hat 
  • Goggles and sunglasses 
  • Small personal first aid kit (sunscreen/lip-balm, moleskin, band-aids, medication, etc.) 
  • Water Bottle (pack bladders do not work well or at all in cold temps) and Thermos
  • Lunch and snacks 
  • Pack (large enough for all equipment on day ski-tours)

Backcountry Travel:

  • Snow travel equipment. Snowshoes, telemark or alpine touring skis and split boards are acceptable. Nordic (cross country) ski gear is not adequate for backcountry travel in avalanche terrain.
  • Boots. Must be warm and compatible with your snow travel gear. If you are using snow shoes, you should have some sort of double boots (Sorel or other “pac” type boots). Hiking boots are not warm enough. 
  • Collapsible ski poles (trekking poles are only adequate if they are equipped with snow baskets)

Backcountry travel equipment can be rented from many shops throughout the front range.

Rescue Equipment:

  • Avalanche probe 
  • Collapsible shovel 
  • Avalanche transceiver (rescue beacon)

Beacon, probe, and shovel rental are included in the price of the class. Please inform your instructor if you need to borrow one or more of these items.

Other Equipment:
(provided for this class)

  • Weather Proof Field Book
  • AIARE Manual

Gear available by request:

  • Snowshoes, poles and gaiters
  • Beacon, Probe and Shovel

Rocky Mountain Nature Center

The Field Seminar Center is located 2.6 miles from the intersection of Highways 34 and 36 near downtown Estes Park.  Take the Highway 34 West bypass, also known as Wonderview Avenue. You will immediately pass the Safeway store on the right, followed by the Stanley Historic District on the right.  Without turning, the road becomes Fall River Road.  After passing Nicky's Lodge and Restaurant on the left, continue for 0.7 miles.  The Field Seminar Center is located just beyond Amberwood Lodge on the right, and our entrance is directly across from Boulder Brook Lodge...Welcome!

All hotels and camp grounds are based solely on proximity to the class.  We have no affiliation nor do we endorse any of the following hotels or camp grounds. We do not offer any accommodations.  Below are a few of the many option available.

Hotels options near Estes Park:
Boulder Brook‎ $$$
1900 Fall River Road
Estes Park, CO 80517
(970) 586-0910

Rodeway Inn  $$
1701 North Lake Ave,
Estes Park, CO, 80517
Phone: (970) 586-5363

Best Western Plus Silver Saddle‎ $$
1260 Big Thompson Avenue
Estes Park, CO 80517
(970) 586-4476

Renaissance Adventure Guides is an equal opportunity service provider.

Renaissance Adventure Guides operates under special use permits from the White River National Forest.

All or part of this operation is conducted on Public Lands under special permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

About Renaissance Adventure Guides
Renaissance Adventure Guides

Denver, Colorado 80209 USA

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