AIARE 1 + Rescue Avalanche Course | Washington

The Blackbird AIARE 1 + Rescue course delivers all of the essential skills you need to make sound decisions in avalanche terrain and be a great backcountry skiing partner including, field observations, travel techniques, decision-making, and avalanche rescue in our innovative 3 day Washington course at Mt Baker and Snoqualmie Pass.
AIARE 1 Students practicing digging for an avalanche victim with shovels
Snowboarders hiking a ridge during an AIARE 1 + Rescue avalanche course with Blackbird Guides
Skier making a pow turn during an AIARE 1 + Rescue Avalanche Course

What makes The AIARE 1 + Rescue better than an AIARE 1? 

This program is two courses in one, where the sum is greater than its parts.  The AIARE 1 + Rescue is our one-of-a-kind Avalanche Rescue course coupled with a more in-depth and involved AIARE 1 program. We offer courses at Mt Baker and at Snoqualmie Pass.

How does the AIARE 1 portion of the AIARE 1 + Rescue provide a better experience than a normal AIARE 1?  This is simple: normal AIARE 1 avalanche courses devote a significant amount of time to avalanche rescue, which is realistically an introduction to avalanche rescue with additional practice required for significant results. Our program boasts a full day of Avalanche Rescue that provides a substantial amount of practice to set you and your team up to deal with a real emergency. The subsequent two days are spent in the field covering weather and snowpack observations, terrain assessment and decision making in avalanche terrain, with no additional rescue practice.

The outcome is that you get a better understanding of avalanche rescue and decision making in avalanche terrain!  The skills that you'll leave this program with will be significantly improved when compared to taking an AIARE 1 and a rescue course separately.  This program is the baseline of fundamental avalanche knowledge for any serious backcountry skier or rider. 

Requisite Experience 

Our AIARE 1 and Avalanche Rescue programs are made for backcountry riders looking to assess avalanche risk, improve their backcountry decision-making, establish a solid foundation for rescue skills and become reliable backcountry partners.  These courses are great for novices to expert level backcountry users alike, but we require that you:

  • Are Proficient at Using Your Gear.  If you are not, consider taking the Introduction to Backcountry Skiing, an excellent way to gain a basic understanding of ski touring.
  • Can ride Advanced Terrain at a ski resort.  The course venue may be in fairly benign terrain, but it is important that riders have an advanced riding ability to manage the highly variable snow conditions we experience in the backcountry.  These conditions are typically very different from those found at ski resorts, even in off-piste resort terrain.
  • Have Appropriate Gear.  Ski touring bindings or splitboards are much more functional than snowshoes.  Please do not plan on using snowshoes during this course as it can impede the progress of the team.  Likewise, a safety concern for the team is having functional avalanche tools, including:
    • Digital Beacon (newer than 5 years old or recently checked by the manufacturer)
    • High Quality Aluminum Shovel (plastic blades often break in dense avalanche debris)
    • High Quality Probe (modern, quick-draw style)
AIARE 1 Students practicing digging for an avalanche victim with shovels
Snowboarders hiking a ridge during an AIARE 1 + Rescue avalanche course with Blackbird Guides
Skier making a pow turn during an AIARE 1 + Rescue Avalanche Course
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Snowboarders hiking a ridge during an AIARE 1 + Rescue avalanche course with Blackbird Guides
  • Load image into Gallery viewer, Skier making a pow turn during an AIARE 1 + Rescue Avalanche Course


Available Dates

December 9-11, 2022 - Snoqualmie Pass
December 28-30, 2022 - Snoqualmie Pass
January 14-16, 2023 - Mt Baker
January 27-29, 2023 - Snoqualmie Pass
February 10-12, 2023 - Snoqualmie Pass
February 18-20, 2023 - Snoqualmie Pass
March 10-12, 2023 - Mt Baker


$750 per person


The Blackbird AIARE 1 + Rescue is two courses rolled into one 3 day program!


Day 1: Avalanche Rescue

8:45 am  Meet your guide, open with introductions and gear-up.  We’ll begin with covering gear and fundamental skills before moving into an instructor rescue demo and participant-led scenarios.

3:00 pm  We wind down the program.

7:00-9:00 pm  Webinar to cover AIARE 1 content.  Will probably be slightly shorter due to meeting in the field.


Day 2: AIARE 1: Observations & Snowpack Tests

8:00 am  Meet your guide and review the plan for the day. The day will center around observations, assessment of weather and snowpack, and evaluating and moving through or near avalanche terrain.

3:00 pm  We will close the day with a margin of daylight remaining when we hit the trailhead.  Safely back at the cars, we’ll review the day and debrief the decisions we made.  Debriefs are very helpful for building useful experience quickly!


Day 3: AIARE 1: Backcountry Tour

8:00 am  Meet your guide at the trailhead, ready with weather and avalanche hazard forecasts.  We’ll review the plan for the day, including a discussion of the day’s avalanche problem, the proposed route up and options for the ascent and descent.  The guide will facilitate a Trailhead Departure Check/Beacon Check.

8:30 am  We’ll begin the tour, making decisions based on our trip plan, weather forecast and the avalanche advisory for the day.  Along the way, we’ll make snowpack and weather observations and open discussions on where we should go and how we should travel. Your guide will provide insights and foster sound decision making as the group navigates the challenges of the terrain, snowpack and weather.  

3:00 pm  We will once again close the program with a margin of daylight remaining when we hit the trailhead and we’ll debrief the day.  Once we’ve covered the decisions and outcomes of the day, we’ll close the course with thoughts on the best ways to move forward with your backcountry progression! 


Gear Guide / Packing List

Backcountry Touring Gear

❏ Alpine Touring Skis or Splitboard - Light to Midweight Setup with “Tech Bindings”

❏ Alpine Touring Boots or Splitboard Compatible Boots; Scarpa F1

❏ Climbing Skins - Mohair Mix is Best; Black Diamond GlideLite Mohair Mix,

❏ Touring Backpack - A Pack with Avalanche Tools Pocket; BD Cirque 35

❏ Ski Poles - Lightweight, Adjustable Poles with Baskets; BD Expedition 3 Poles

❏ Ski Helmet - Lightweight S

Avalanche Gear

RENT a the full Avalanche Gear Kit from Blackbird

❏ Avalanche Beacon - Digital Avalanche Transceiver; Black Diamond Guide Recon BT

❏ Avalanche Shovel - Collapsible, Aluminum Shovel; Backcountry Access BT2 Shovel

❏ Avalanche Probe - Quickdraw Style Probe; Backcountry Access Stealth 300

Head and Neck Layers

❏ Sun Hat - A Baseball Hat; Blackbird Mountain Guides Logo Hat

❏ Sunglasses - Dark Lens Glasses with Side Coverage; Julbo Shield

❏ Goggles - Ski Goggles with a Storm Lens; Julbo Aerospace Reactive

❏ Warm Hat - Lightweight Warm Hat that Fits Under Your Helmet;

❏ Neck Gaiters - Light to Midweight Neck Gaiters; Buff or your favorite Face Masks

***These Are Required as Covid-19 Face Coverings

Upper Body and Hand Layers

❏ Long Sleeve Base Layer - Lightweight, Synthetic/Wool; Patagonia SunHoody

❏ 2 Insulating Top Layers - Light to Midweight Insulation Layers; Patagonia R1 & Nano Air

❏ Puffy - Midweight Down or Synthetic with Hood; Patagonia Fitzroy or similar

❏ Hardshell Jacket, Hooded - Waterproof, Gore-Tex, NOT insulated; Arc’Teryx Alpha FL

❏ Light Gloves - Light to Mid Weight for Warm Temps; Flylow John Henry Gloves, BD Tour

❏ Midweight Gloves - Mid to Heavy Weight for Cold Conditions; BD Legend

❏ Sports Bra - Wool/Synthetic;

Lower Body and Foot Layers

❏ Socks - Midweight Wool/Synthetic; Darn Tough Via Ferrata

❏ Underwear - Wool/Synthetic

❏ Long Underwear - Wool/Synthetic “Long Johns”; Patagonia Capilene Air

❏ Softshell Ski Pants - Breathable, Weather Resistant for Fair Weather; OR Trailbreaker II

❏ Vented Hardshell Ski Pants - Waterproof Pants for Extreme Weather; Flylow Compound

Food and Water

❏ Nalgene Water Bottle - Hard Sided Bottle; Nalgene 16oz-32oz Wide Mouth Bottle

❏ Soft Water Bottle 1.5L - Flexible Water Bladder; Hydrapak Flux 1.5L

***Please bring at least one hard sided water bottle.

❏ Snacks - Enough Snacks for the Day. There will be no lunch break so snacks must be

convenient and easy to eat.

Other Essentials

❏ Sun Screen (SPF 30 minimum)

❏ Lip Balm (with SPF)

❏ Hand Sanitizer

❏ Toilet Paper


❏ First Aid/blister Kit

❏ Chemical Hand Warmers

❏ Hydration System - Flexible Water Bladder with Hose; Hydrapak, Camelback, Platypus

Group Gear

Blackbird Mountain Guides will supply all of the group gear for the trip, including:

✓ Guide’s First Aid Kits

✓ Wag Bags (Solid Human Waste Disposal Bags)

✓ Snow Observation Equipment (Snowsaws, Loops, Crystal Cards, Etc)

Know Before You Go


Mt Baker & Snoqualmie Pass, WA



Technical Difficulty ⚫⚫⚪⚪⚪⚪

While there won’t be a lot of technical movement, other than riding advanced off-piste terrain, there will be a lot of content to absorb throughout the course!

Physical Difficulty ⚫⚫⚪⚪⚪⚪

These programs are moderate in physical difficulty, but require proficiency in using your touring gear and skiing off piste terrain. 

Trip Length 

3 days

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