AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Courses with AMGA Certified Ski and Alpine Guides

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Courses

Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain

KMG is education heavy and this attribute shines in our AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Courses. Our education heavy philosophy is why more colleges in the San Juans choose to work with KMG than any other guide service around!  Don’t just get dragged through your avalanche course.  Let our AIARE trained and qualified instructors give you a complete, hands-on introduction to the avalanche phenomenon.

Our Level One is a 3 day/ 24 hour introduction to avalanche hazard management.  Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn companion rescue techniques required to find and dig up a buried person.

Instructional Sessions

(24 hours including both classroom and field instruction)

1.   Introduction to the Avalanche Phenomena

  • Types and characteristics of avalanches
  • Avalanche motion
  • Size classification
  • The mountain snowpack: an introduction to metamorphism and layering

2.   Observations and Information Gathering

  • Field observation techniques
  • Bonding tests: rutschblock, compression test,
  • Avalanche danger factors; “Red Flags”.
  • Observation checklist
  • Avalanche danger scale
  • Trip Planning and Preparation
  • Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment, and selection
  • Route finding and travel techniques
  • Decision making and Human Factors
  • Companion Rescue and Equipment

Price Includes

  • AIARE qualified instructors
  • AMGA Trained/Certified Ski Guide, Alpine Guide, or IFMGA Licensed Mountain Guide as the lead instructor
  • AIARE Course Manual
  • AIARE Avalanche field book.
  • AIARE Certificate of Completion
  • Use of avalanche equipment
  • Snow, Weather, and Avalanche Guidelines (level 2 course only)
  • Hut course includes three nights at the Addie S Cabin, breakfasts and dinners while on course
  • Federal Land Use Surcharge (USFS/BLM)

Price Does Not Include

  • Travel to Durango, CO from your location
  • Backcountry ski touring equipment; skis, skins, packs etc.  These are all available to rent from our partner shop Backcountry Experience. Additional fees apply for ski equipment rental.  Please inquire for more information.
  • Items of personal nature
  • Individual travel costs, delays, and excess baggage fees
  • Personal clothing and ski equipment
  • Drinks and personal snacks
  • Hotels before and after trip
  • Recommended Travel/trip cancelation insurance. We highly recommend this!
  • Guide/Staff gratuity


  • 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, hat
    • Goggles and sunglasses
    • Small personal first aid kit (sunscreen/lip-balm, moleskin, band-aids, medication, etc.)
    • Water Bottle
    • Pack
  • Skiing Equipment
    • Boots (touring boots recommended)
    • Skis with touring bindings and skins (please adjust bindings to boots and skins to skis before the course) *Randonee or free-heel gear is okay.
    • Poles
  • Snowboarding Equipment
    • Split Board with touring bindings and skins (please adjust bindings to boots and skins to board before the course) *For students arriving at the course with snowboarding equipment, split boards are recommended, as compared to traveling with snowshoes.
    • Boots
    • Collapsible poles OR Snowboard (with means of attachment to pack—please have a system worked out before you come on the course)
  • Snowshoes –
    • Snowshoes (adjusted to boots, please test thoroughly before the course. *Snowshoes are not recommended for courses where deep new snow conditions or steep terrain will likely be experienced
  • Avalanche Rescue Equipment – provided free of charge
    • Avalanche probe
    • Collapsible shovel
    • Avalanche transceiver (digital 457 kHz frequency only)
    • Cell phone or two-way radio (OPTIONAL)
  • Avalanche Rescue Equipment
    • Avalanche probe
    • Collapsible shovel
    • Avalanche transceiver (digital 457 kHz frequency only)
    • Cell phone or two-way radio (OPTIONAL)
  • Other Equipment
    • Pack large enough to fit all equipment on day tours
    • Field notebook (AIARE Field Notebook is included with all Kling Mountain Guide AIARE courses)
    • The Avalanche Handbook, 3rd Edition: BUY HERE
    • Pencils (two, mechanical)
    • Pocket Knife


  • Skiers should be in good physical condition.  They will need a backcountry travel method (touring skis, split board, snowshoes).
  • There are a lifetime of ski tours with different difficulties in the San Juan Mountains.  Please get in touch with us to find out if this course is right for you.   If need be, we would like to ski with you prior to course to help ensure that you are up to the challenge.
  • If you do not possess these skills or need review, we recommend doing a skills course with us in Colorado or Utah prior to your course.


  • Day 1 – Classroom:
    • We spend our first day in the classroom.  By spending the entire first day in the classroom, we have two full days in the field.  Less transition time meens more time practicing our new skills!
  • Day 2 – Classroom:
    • The first half of the day is spent entirely on companion rescue drills.  We will become proficient with our avlanche trancievers, work on proper probing techniques, and become more efficient shovlers by utilizing strategic shoveling.  The afternoon will spent entirely on snow science and taking data from the snow pack.  We will cover standardized and non-standardized bonding tests, how to dig a test pit, and how to extrapolate information from the snow pack.
  • Day 3 – Classroom:
    • We put it all to use!  Today we will go on a full tour.  You will be in front leading the group.  Each student will have the opportunity to be in a leadership role and practice using the Decision Making Framework, a road map for decision making in the backcountry.

Registration & Cancelation

  • Unfortunately, due to extremely high demand we have a very strict registration and cancelation policy. We can not transfer you to an other program. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND PURCHASING TRAVEL INSURANCE! We recommend the TravelEx Insurance Travel Select plan with the Adventurer Plus Pak upgrade.
  • To reserve your spot on a domestic climbing or skiing program please fill out the enclosed application and return it to us along with a 50% deposit if applying more than 60 days out. If your trip/ course starts in less than 60 days please submit full payment.
  • Program fees are non-transferable. If notice of cancellation is given in writing at least 60 days prior to the trip start date, you will be refunded your fulldeposit except for a $50 processing fee.
  • If notice of cancellation is given in writing within 59 – 30 days prior to the trip start date, a cancellation fee equal to the deposit amount will be charged. If notice of cancellation is given in writing less than 30 days prior to the trip start date, a cancellation fee equal to 100% of the program fee will be charged.

2020 AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Courses


  • January 3 – 5, 2020 HUT BASED at Addie S Cabin
  • January 10 – 12, 2020 HUT BASED at Addie S Cabin
  • January 24 – 26, 2020 no hut
  • Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, 2020 HUT BASED at Addie S Cabin
  • February 7 – 9, 2020  HUT BASED at Addie S cabin 
  • February 21 – 23, 2020 no hut


3 days of instruction (for hut-based courses, participants arrive to the hut the night before the first day of instruction)


Coal Bank Pass, Molas Pass, Red Mountain Pass, Silverton, CO


Level 1 – $450 (no hut)

Level 1 HUT course – $700   (includes 3 nights lodging, breakfasts, and dinners while on course)

Client to Guide Ratio

Level 1 up to 6:1