ARC Avalanche Rescue Course

The Blackbird ARC brings avalanche rescue training to the next level. We utilize lifts to get you more practice in realistic scenarios, in real terrain, with less time spent on the approach.
ARC Avalanche Rescue Course
ARC Avalanche Rescue Course
ARC Avalanche Rescue Course
ARC Avalanche Rescue Course
ARC Avalanche Rescue Course
ARC Avalanche Rescue Course

The Blackbird ARC brings avalanche rescue training to the next level.  We utilize lifts to get you more practice in realistic scenarios, in real terrain, with less time spent on the approach.  

This is a unique program pioneered by Blackbird Mountain Guides that uses ski lifts to propel us into the alpine where we can get right into avalanche rescue, instead of devoting hours to approaching the practice area.

  • Practice Avalanche Rescue, Top Down.  Our program is the ONLY program that we know of in California that allows participants the opportunity to do multiple top-down search scenarios.  This is highly valuable and differs from most "meadow" based rescue courses that are only access flat terrain.  In these scenarios, you get to practice starting at the top of the avalanche path, searching with skis on or board together. It provides valuable insight into searching the way you would if your ski partner was caught during a descent.
  • Realistic Terrain. Our venue at Donner Ski Ranch is an ideal setup for this program.  It provides incredible access to well defined "avalanche paths" that are highly realistic and provide a great range of terrain for scenarios.  Compare this to the flat terrain that you would find on other ARCs and you will see why this is a superior program.  
  • Top notch AIARE Avalanche Course Leaders.  Our course leaders are some of Tahoe's most experienced snow experts and instructors.  We have lived and breathed  the Tahoe snowpack (thankfully not literally) and have years of experience guiding, performing avalanche control at Class A ski resorts and instructing courses.
  • Breakfast included. Yeah, really.  We include a fresh cooked breakfast burrito or breakfast sandwich with your program, so all you need to do is worry about throwing your gear in your car and showing up on time.  The wonders of Donner Ski Ranch!
  • Lift Ticket Included.  Yep, we gotcha covered on getting up the lift too.  And, the fun thing about our program is you'll actually get a few laps in.  While your guide builds the next avalanche scenario, you get to take a free lap before meeting up to discuss the problem.
  • Private Programs available too!

  • This program is perfect for getting you and your ski partners or small team up to speed on avalanche rescue.  Contact us today to pick a private date for your group!

The topics that will be covered are:

  • Rescue techniques for companion and small team rescue

  • Rescue Equipment Technology

  • Strategies for using your gear effectively

Requisite Experience 

Blackbird highly recommends taking the Blackbird A1 BEFORE taking the ARC.  It prepares you better and makes it so all of the participants have a similar level of understanding at the onset of the program.  The A1 is not a mandatory prerequisite, so please don't let this recommendation dissuade you if you have had some exposure to these concepts and are confident that you will not burden other participants.

We do require that you:

  • Are Proficient at Using Your Touring Gear.  We will teach you how to use the Avalanche Rescue Tools, but if you are not proficient with your touring gear, consider taking Introduction to Backcountry Skiing.  It is an excellent way to gain a basic understanding of ski touring.
  • Can ride Advanced Terrain at a ski resort.  The course venue offers challenging terrain and snow conditions and it is important that riders have an advanced riding ability to manage highly variable snow conditions while using their avalanche rescue gear. 
  • Have Appropriate Gear.  Alpine touring skis and bindings or splitboards are required since we may choose to skin during the program during our searches.  In addition to your AT skis or splitboard, you must have modern and functional avalanche rescue 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 snow and/or avalanche debris)
    • High Quality Probe (modern, quick-draw style)


    Available Dates

    Dec 11, 2020
    Dec 21 2020
    Dec 28, 2020
    Jan 4, 2021
    Jan 8, 2021
    Jan 11, 2021
    Jan 22, 2021
    Jan 25, 2021
    Jan 29, 2021
    Feb 1, 2021
    Feb 5, 2021
    Feb 8, 2021
    Feb 12, 2021
    Feb 22, 2021
    Feb 26, 2021
    Mar 1, 2021
    Mar 5, 2021
    Mar 8, 2021
    Mar 12, 2021
    Mar 15, 2021
    Mar 19, 2021
    Mar 22, 2021
    Mar 26, 2021
    Apr 2, 2021
    Apr 5, 2021


    $249 per person




    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


    North Lake Tahoe, CA



    Difficulty ⚫⚫⚪⚪⚪⚪

    The Blackbird ARC Avalanche Rescue Course requires moderate physical exertion and the ability to ski off piste terrain proficiently.

    Trip Length

    Single Day

    Price Includes

    • Lift Served Avalanche Rescue Course
    • Donner Ski Ranch Lift Ticket 
    • Fresh Cooked Breakfast!
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