The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) mission is to “save lives through avalanche education”. We have no doubt this course could save your life.
This course will teach you how to assess the risks when going off-piste and what to do in the case of an accident; you will learn how to read the snow pack, understand the weather conditions, rescue someone from a crevasse, use a transceiver to search for avalanche victims, and much more.
The course is split between learning theory in the classroom and putting it into practice in the mountains. The lessons and exercises are practical, useful and applicable; you will learn how to identify the right questions and make your own decisions, rather than us just giving you all the "answers". Over three days you will have plenty of time in the Chamonix backcountry to learn about off-piste safety skills.
A final debrief includes a knowledge quiz to test student comprehension and give feedback to course instructors. Students are encouraged and counselled on how to apply the skills learned. It is important to remember that no course can fully guarantee safety, either during or after course completion. It will, however, equip you with a much greater understanding of the mountain environment.
AIARE avalanche safety courses are the result of a collaboration between Canadian, Swiss and American mountain guides. AIARE sets curriculum standards for avalanche education from recreational to professional levels. The curriculum evolves with changes in the world of avalanche research and education. All AIARE instructors are certified and required to stay current for the level of course they are teaching.
There are currently 60 registered AIARE course providers and 200 instructors worldwide. Chamonix Experience is one of only two recognized AIARE course providers in Europe - watch our video below to find out what our course involves.
The AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Safety Course is a 3 day / 24 hour introduction to avalanche hazard management.
During the 3 days the course will:
Provide a basic understanding of avalanches
Describe a framework for decision making and risk management in avalanche terrain
Focus on identifying the right questions, rather than on providing just “answers”.
Give lessons and exercises that are practically oriented, useful and applicable in the field.
Students can expect to develop good basic knowledge to prepare for and carry out a trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, as well as rescue techniques required to find and dig up a buried person (if an avalanche occurs and someone in the party is caught).
A final debrief includes a knowledge quiz to test student comprehension and give feedback to instructors on instructional tools. Students are encouraged and counselled on how to apply the skills learned and told that no course can fully guarantee safety, either during or after course completion.
The course is delivered half in the classroom and half in the field
The first part of day 1 will be spent in the classroom, so you can bring normal shoes with you for that section if you wish.
Basic understanding of avalanches
Decision making skills and risk management in avalanche terrain
Avalanche search and rescue techniques
Good basic knowledge to prepare for and carry out a backcountry trip
The only pre-requisites for this course are that you can ski or snowboard well on the piste and are comfortable skiing gentle off-piste terrain. You will use ski touring equipment during the course, but previous ski touring experience is not required.
Snowboarders - you don’t need previous touring experience if you are using snowshoes. If you are using a split board you will have to know how to set the board up quickly and efficiently by yourself. Split boards are tricky to use and you will have no time to learn how to set up the board during the course.
Fleece or woollen layers
Light puffer jacket
Windproof and waterproof jacket
Windproof and waterproof trousers
Ski / splitboard skins
Ski touring skis
Ski touring boots
20 - 30 litres rucksack with attachment loops for skis / snowboard
Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe
Water bottle - Ideally two 1L bottles
Sun cream high protection (for lips and face)
Included or not
Guiding & Tuition
3 days of guiding and instruction by a UIAGM gualified mountain guide and an AIARE qualified course leader.
AIARE course manual and field book.
AIARE course certificate of completion.
Ropes, safety equipment, etc will be provided when needed by your guide.
We can provide the essential safety equipment of harness, avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel if you do not have your own. We can also lend you a backpack with straps for carrying your skis/snowboard on request.
Our team is based at the foot of the Aiguillle du Midi cable car and will be happy to help you with any questions you may have before, during or after your trip to Chamonix.
Skis / Snowboards
The price does not include skis/snowboards, boots or clothing. If you do not have your own we can help you organise rental, please ask us for details.
We will advise you on which lift passes you will need prior to your trip. If lift passes are required we can preorder them for you on request.
Travel insurance including a mountain search and rescue insurance is mandatory on all our trips (we can organise the mountai search and rescue insurance for you on request). We highly advice to have a policy covering the cost of medical treatment and to protect the value of your holiday in the event of cancellation. When taking out insurance please ensure the policy you choose covers you for the activities and altitude included in your itinerary.
Food & Drink
The price does not include lunch or snacks. You can bring your own food and we can stop for a picnic, or there may be the option to buy lunch at a mountain hut. Please make sure that you are carrying sufficient water and snacks as we will be in the mountains for a number of hours.
Accommodation in Chamonix
Accommodation in Chamonix is not included in the price but we would be happy to advise or organise it on request.
Travel to Chamonix
The price does not include flights, airport transfers or any other travel to/from Chamonix. However, we can organise airport transfers for you on request, please contact us for details.