AIARE 1 Avalanche Course in Tahoe

Our AIARE 1 Avalanche Course features two full days in the field and an interactive online course built by Blackbird Mountain Guides. It provides a foundation for assessing and managing avalanche hazard as well as finding the best turns in the backcountry!


*Early season courses (Nov-Dec ) are snowfall- and conditions-dependent. We will let students know 10-14 days ahead of their course date if there is a chance it will not run. If we are unable to run the course, students can reschedule to a later date at no cost. Keep in mind however, that courses fill up fast and we may not be able to reschedule you until later in the season!

Please let us know if you would like to be in the same group as other participants in the notes section when booking! We cannot accommodate last minute group switches.

Overview
Itinerary
Prerequisites
Inclusions
Gear

We'll cover the following topics and skills:

  • Mountain Snowpack
  • Mountain Weather
  • The Avalanche Problems
  • Trip Planning
  • Snow and Weather Observations
  • How to Practice Small Team Avalanche Rescue
  • Terrain Choice
  • Human Factors and Assembling your Team
  • Trailhead Departure Check
  • Route Finding
  • Track Setting
  • Descent Choices

Here's the schedule for your course:

  • 6 Hour Online Course - can be completed any time prior to the pre-field webinar

  • 2 Hour Pre-Field Zoom Webinar - 7:00-9:00pm the Wednesday before the field days

  • Field Day 1 - 8:00am meetup with your guide at the trailhead, 3:30-4:00pm end time. Course venue will be determined after the pre-field webinar, based on weather and snow conditions

  • Field Day 2 - 8:00am meetup with your guide at the trailhead, 3:30-4:00pm end time. Course venue will be determined after Field Day 1, based on weather and snow conditions

Here are the skills and fitness you'll need for your course:

  • Advanced Resort Riding skills - Including off-piste terrain in challenging snow conditions

  • Basic Backcountry Touring Skills - Including familiarity with equipment and avalanche gear. Just getting into backcountry skiing or riding? Join us for an Intro to Backcountry before your AIARE 1 to get familiar with gear and movement in the backcountry!

  • Basic Fitness - Able to spend an active day outside, moving uphill at 1,000’ per hour for durations of roughly 1 hour between breaks. Participants should be able to hike 3-5 miles and climb 1,000-1,500 vertical feet throughout the course of the day.

Here's what's included with your course:

  • Experienced AMGA/AIARE Trained Guide
  • Tahoe or Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Permit
  • Interactive Online Course with lifetime access
  • AIARE Field Book (a $30 value)
  • AIARE Certification/Student Fees (a $35 value)
  • Group Safety Gear - Snow Science, First Aid Kits
  • Wag Bags - for human waste disposal, in compliance 'Leave No Trace' principles
Not Included
  • Ski/Splitboard Gear
  • Avalanche Gear
  • Transportation
  • Meals
  • Winter Parking Passes
  • Guide Gratuities

Tahoe Backcountry Skiing Gear List


Know Before you go

SKILL LEVELTouring Experience
ELEVATION6,000’-9,000’
LocationTahoe

Price/Person $625.00
Private Programs
Duration: 2.5 Days
View Full Itinerary
Private Programs

Blackbird Mountain Guides offers both scheduled group programs and private programs.

Private programs are simply above and beyond what Blackbird Mountain Guides currently has scheduled. Scheduled courses are not always less expensive. Before booking a trip with Blackbird Mountain Guides, clients are encouraged to review the differences between these types of programs, and to decide what works best for them.

SCHEDULED PROGRAMS

Scheduled Programs have fixed dates, itineraries, objectives, curriculum, and costs. They typically appeal to solo individuals or small groups or who are looking to share the cost of their program with a larger group. Correspondingly, scheduled programs are less expensive for smaller groups (1-2), and they provide the opportunity to meet others with similar interests. If you have a large group (3+), Scheduled programs will often be more expensive. They can fill up quickly, and scheduling flexibility is obviously limited.

Scheduled programs will have advertised dates. All scheduled programs can be run as private programs with private dates/rates as well.

PRIVATE PROGRAMS

Private programs have scheduling freedom. They typically appeal to those who would like some flexibility in planning their own trip or course. In this regard, Itineraries and objectives can be tailored to suit current conditions as well as client goals. Private programs are normally less expensive for larger groups (3+). If you have a small group (1-2) private programs will be more expensive.

Contact us
Full Itinerary

Online Coursework (6 hours)

Immediately after signing up for Blackbird AIARE 1, you can begin learning. Take the Online Coursework whenever it makes sense for you.  You’ll need roughly 6 hours to complete this portion of the course.  This education is for your own development and understanding, so study hard and come up with some good questions for your instructor.  The more knowledge you have before you arrive to the field, the more you and your fellow participants will get out of the course.  

Please take notes and write down questions as you progress through the online coursework so that we can review them in the “Pre-Field Webinar.”
 

Pre-Field Webinar (2 hours)

Before the course, you’ll be invited to a “Pre-Field Webinar” where you avalanche instructor will tie the lessons of the online coursework together with some fun and helpful exercises.  After that, there will be time available for questions.

 

Field Day 1: Avalanche Rescue and Field Observations

8:00 am  Meet your guide and review the plan for the day. The guide will discuss the avalanche problem for the day, the proposed route up and options for the ascent and descent.  The guide will conduct a Trailhead Departure Check/Beacon Check.

8:30 am  Tour to a zone where we can make snowpack observations pertinent to the current avalanche problem, including a Snow Pit.

12:30 pm  Tour to a zone that is appropriate for practicing small team avalanche rescue.  

3:30 pm  We will close the program at the trailhead with a quick review of the skills that we learned, a synopsis of the avalanche observations that we made and an overview of what to expect the following day in the field. 

 

Field Day 2: Ski Tour with Avalanche Observations and Decision Making

8:00 am  We’ll meet at the trailhead for our objective and students will lead us through the weather overnight and forecast for the day, the current avalanche advisory, our route plan and options, an emergency action plan and perform the trailhead beacon check.  

Throughout the day we will practice the skills that we’ve learned throughout the program in real time to execute our tour in good style.  We’ll practice gathering observations, prioritizing information and making decisions with our teams.

3:30 pm  We’ll regroup at the trailhead to debrief the tour and discuss the lessons of the day.  Then we will close out the program by providing some guidance on good choices for your next steps in avalanche education and ski touring progression.

 

We'll cover the following topics and skills:

  • Mountain Snowpack
  • Mountain Weather
  • The Avalanche Problems
  • Trip Planning
  • Snow and Weather Observations
  • How to Practice Small Team Avalanche Rescue
  • Terrain Choice
  • Human Factors and Assembling your Team
  • Trailhead Departure Check
  • Route Finding
  • Track Setting
  • Descent Choices

Here's the schedule for your course:

  • 6 Hour Online Course - can be completed any time prior to the pre-field webinar

  • 2 Hour Pre-Field Zoom Webinar - 7:00-9:00pm the Wednesday before the field days

  • Field Day 1 - 8:00am meetup with your guide at the trailhead, 3:30-4:00pm end time. Course venue will be determined after the pre-field webinar, based on weather and snow conditions

  • Field Day 2 - 8:00am meetup with your guide at the trailhead, 3:30-4:00pm end time. Course venue will be determined after Field Day 1, based on weather and snow conditions

Here are the skills and fitness you'll need for your course:

  • Advanced Resort Riding skills - Including off-piste terrain in challenging snow conditions

  • Basic Backcountry Touring Skills - Including familiarity with equipment and avalanche gear. Just getting into backcountry skiing or riding? Join us for an Intro to Backcountry before your AIARE 1 to get familiar with gear and movement in the backcountry!

  • Basic Fitness - Able to spend an active day outside, moving uphill at 1,000’ per hour for durations of roughly 1 hour between breaks. Participants should be able to hike 3-5 miles and climb 1,000-1,500 vertical feet throughout the course of the day.

Here's what's included with your course:

  • Experienced AMGA/AIARE Trained Guide
  • Tahoe or Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Permit
  • Interactive Online Course with lifetime access
  • AIARE Field Book (a $30 value)
  • AIARE Certification/Student Fees (a $35 value)
  • Group Safety Gear - Snow Science, First Aid Kits
  • Wag Bags - for human waste disposal, in compliance 'Leave No Trace' principles
Not Included
  • Ski/Splitboard Gear
  • Avalanche Gear
  • Transportation
  • Meals
  • Winter Parking Passes
  • Guide Gratuities

Tahoe Backcountry Skiing Gear List

Epic Reviews From Adventurers

72 reviews
  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars
    Can't imagine a better experience!

    Had a really awesome time doing my AIARE 1 with Jason at Blackbird Mountain Guides. Couldn't have imagined a better experience--learned a ton and got some really great skiing in along the way!

    Trent R.
    Flag of United States
  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars
    Great Course Layout, Highly Recommend!

    I highly recommend this course (AIARE 1) and Blackbird Mountain Guides in particular. I had taken several online courses last year when there were no field courses available but doing fieldwork made a huge difference. What had been abstract, easy to forget, and somewhat inscrutable became clear and memorable. The Blackbird online portion was well presented via Zoom by John, and when we went out that weekend Zeb made the fieldwork fun and informative. He encouraged us as a team to choose routes and make decisions about the day, and when we veered off course he would subtly nudge us back on track. He also managed to accommodate a wide diversity of ages and abilities. At the end of each day we had a debrief that summarized the major points, lessons learned, and things to focus on in the future. This was overall a great experience!

    Joan B.
    Flag of United States
  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars
    Experts in their field!

    Blackbird guides are experts in their field of education and safety in the wilderness. The content of the course is relevant and clear. I highly recommend Blackbird for AIARE training.

    Emma W.
    Flag of United States
  • Rated 5 out of 5 stars
    Thorough and fun!

    While there is so much information to learn about avalanches, The AIARE 1 course was thorough and fun! I feel I have a great foundation to continue my training. Sarah was an amazing guide and I hope to hit the backcountry with her in the future! Great company. Friendly and welcoming! Looking forward to taking other Blackbird Mountain Guides courses in the future!

    Bronwyn W.
    Flag of United States
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