AIARE L2 Big Mountain Course

  • This unique course is a full AIARE Rec Level 2 course, with an added focus on riding bigger terrain and the tools to do it with greater confidence. Over the course of 4 days in the field, we will focus on appropriate rope work for the advanced skier / ski mountaineer, as well as advanced tour planning and decision-making. AIARE Level 1 and Ski resume will be required to sign up.

    A successfully completed AIARE Level 1 & Companion Rescue Course is required prior to completing this course. 

  • The AIARE Rec 2 avalanche course provides avid backcountry users and leaders the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills. The AIARE Rec Level 2 Avalanche Course develops an understanding of snowpack formation and metamorphism. Observation guidelines and recording standards for factors that influence and indicate snowpack stability are presented. Avalanche formation and release are discussed. A stability analysis and forecasting process is introduced. (Colorado Avalanche Information Center) Students will come away from the course with the following information:

    • Snow Metamorphism
    • Surface Hoar Formation
    • Stability Testing
    • Observation Guidelines
    • Recording Standards
    • Understand the snow metamorphism process and how it relates to backcountry snow stability.
    • Understand weak layer formation in the snow pack.
    • Understand temperature gradient and its effects on snow.
    • Make standardized observations and recordings for weather, snowpack and avalanches.
    • Conduct snow testing and interpretation.
    • Perform a rescue

    This course is designed for those who have an interest in expanding their knowledge and understanding of snow stability and snow stability factors. It is ideal for snow safety and guiding professionals, people interested in these and related careers, and recreational practitioners and group leaders who are looking for advanced knowledge and skills.

    Prerequisites: Students must have the ability to travel in avalanche terrain. An AIARE Level 1 Course or equivalent training/experience is required. Practical experience after the Level 1 course is recommended.

    Aspen Expeditions' professional AMGA certified or trained guides follow both AIARE* and AAA* international snow education standards. Our expertise combined with years of experience in mountain ranges throughout the world assure you the highest quality instruction available.

    Please feel free to contact us via phone at 970-925-7625 or email to request more information.

  • Location: Meet at Aspen Expeditions' backcountry center at Aspen Highlands.

    Maximum Guide Ratio: 4:1

    Fitness Level: All courses are designed for the groups physical ability and needs.

    Includes: AIARE instructor/AMGA trained/certified ski guide, use of avalanche beacon, shovel, probe & ski pack, AIARE dues, AIARE field book, 3% USFS land use surcharge

    Not included: Personal skiing equipment (Alpine Touring (AT) ski, or snowboard equipment (available for rent at 50% discount), single ride lift tickets $41 - (often the instructors use Aspen Mountain to gain access to higher elevation snow which would require a lift ticket for a one time gondola ride), lunch/snack food.

    Avalanche Course participants will receive the following discounts: 50% discount on AT demo ski equipment and 10% off avalanche gear through Cripple Creek Backcountry.

  • Course Schedule:

    • Day 1 - 8:00 am - 6 pm - classroom instruction
    • Day 2 - 8:00 am - 6 pm - A combination classroom and field instruction
    • Day 3 - 8:00 am - 6 pm - A combination classroom and field instruction
    • Day 4 - 8:00 am - 6 pm - A combination classroom and field instruction


    The following items are provided for your day tour:

    • Day-tour backpack: (airbag available)
    • Avalanche Transceiver
    • Probe
    • Avy shovel: metal blade is a must


    • Socks: Wool or synthetic ski socks
    • Base layers: Synthetic, wool or silk bottom, underwear and top
    • Mid Layer: Synthetic or wool zip shirt
    • Hard Shell or Softshell pants: A pair with side vents are best.
    • Insulated vest or jacket: down or synthetic.


    • Water bottle
    • Small thermos: (Optional)
    • Sunscreen and lip balm: water/sweat-proof
    • Headlamp
    • Toiletries, Personal first-aid kit: for your personal meds/needs
    • Camera or Smartphone
    • Lunch/Snack food
  • Prep

    You will be provided with a pack w/probe, shovel & avalanche beacon. If you need alpine touring ski equipment (AT skis, skins, boots) we can arrange to set you up at Aspen Highlands shop or the night before between 3:00-5:30 pm.

    Participants will travel through the winter backcountry for field days on skis, splitboard with skins, or snowshoes. Come dressed appropriately with warm layers for moderate physical exertion in cool and wintry weather.


    It is suggested that you maintain a good level of physical fitness. Maintain and build heart and lung endurance with cardiovascular activities such as swimming, cycling, running and hiking. Hike up hill, up stairs or do squats to prepare your legs for mountain travel.


    Follow an avalanche course with a day of lift-served and/or backcountry ski ski day, a backcountry ski tour, a backcountry ski camp, hut trip or international ski trip.


    Booking/Cancellation policy:

    AE requires a full credit card or cash/check payment to hold your reservation. If you choose to cancel within 7 days of a scheduled trip, you will be charged full price. Within 7-14 days of your trip, we would be happy to work out a date to reschedule. If you choose to cancel 2 weeks or more (3 weeks or more for multi-day trips of 5+ people) prior to your scheduled trip, you will receive a full refund. If your guide decides that weather makes your scheduled trip a no-go, we will work with you to reschedule, give you a credit, or refund your trip. Travel Guard insurance is available via our website homepage.

    Risk Management

    Please note: AEW's number one priority is your safety. Many conditions affect our guides' decisions in the mountains, including client fitness and comfort, weather conditions and route conditions. There are inherent hazards in mountain travel such as inclement weather, avalanches, rock fall, ice fall that our guides manage yet cannot eliminate. The combination of our guides' formal training and wealth of experience assures that their sound decision create an enjoyable and safe mountain experience. Aspen Expeditions reserves the right to turn around or change routes without refunds or credits under any conditions.

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