The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) is a globally recognized organization whose mission is to Save Lives through Avalanche Awareness. Whether you plan to be in the backcountry this winter skiing, climbing, hiking, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling, you need this knowledge to play safely in snow covered mountains. The AIARE 1 course is an introduction to avalanche hazard management. Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a backcountry trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn rescue techniques required to find and dig up a buried person (if an avalanche occurs and someone in the party is caught). Upon finishing the course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion and be ready to move onto more advanced courses.

The Synnott Mountain Guides AIARE classes are led by Mark Synnott (AMGA/IFMGA Mountain Guide) and Nick Aiello-Popeo (AIARE 3 Certified & AIARE Instructor). Mark, Nick, and the other instructors are able to not only teach the AIARE standard curriculum, but also draw on their own personal experiences and passion for avalanche awareness to prepare you for your own adventures.

The AIARE 1 course costs $450 and avalanche safety equipment (transceiver/shovel/probe) will be provided by SMG for use during the course (however, you are encouraged to bring your own). The course is best booked online below, but you may also book via email or phone (if you have a group and would like to setup a custom AIARE I course, please contact us). You may book multiple people and pay in one order, but please complete this booking form for each person so we have full details.

2020/2021 AIARE 1 course dates are now available. Please carefully read the following notes, including schedule changes:

  • We are running courses from mid December 2020 through late March 2021 with a variety of weekend and weekday courses.
  • Based on AIARE recommendations and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our winter 2020/2021 AIARE 1 courses will consist 4 hours of online learning (at a time of your choosing), a live 3 hour evening lesson via Zoom two days before your course start date, and 2 full days in the field. The online learning and live Zoom lesson replace the traditional classroom day.
  • There are 12 spots available in each course. The number of available spots will be shown when you choose dates and is automatically updated.
  • On field days, each group consisting of 1 instructor and 4-6 students will stay spaced out from the other group and you’ll travel with the same group each day. Within groups, we’ll space out farther than 6′ whenever possible, but face coverings will be required when that isn’t possible.
  • Please read the info further down this page: Full Course Description, Schedule, Avalanche Education During a Challenging Time, and FAQs – Winter 2020/2021. Feel free to contact SMG if you have questions!

$450.00

Clear
  • What will be your mode of travel during the course (ski or board w/ skins, snowshoes)?
  • Do you have or plan to purchase avalanche rescue gear (beacon/shovel/probe) or will you need to borrow from SMG?
  • We'll be in touch to work out specific details, but please briefly describe your outdoor background (relative to the course or guiding objective) and goals.
  • Please read and check the box if you agree to the policies.

    Online Bookings
    After receiving your online booking, we will get back to you within 1 business day via phone or email to confirm your booking. In the event that we cannot accommodate your booking, you have the option of having your payment refunded or applied to a future booking.

    Payment
    SMG accepts credit cards, PayPal, checks, and cash. Payment for AIARE courses is due in full at the time of booking. An exception is made for payment by check or cash...in these cases, payment is due in full at or before the course.

    Cancellations
    If you have to cancel your booking, please give us as much notice as possible. If you cancel 30+ days before the booking, we’ll apply the deposit/payment towards another booking at a later date or you can request a refund. If you cancel from 14-29 days before the booking, we’ll apply the deposit/payment towards another booking at a later date. If you cancel 13 days or sooner from the booking, for any reason, the deposit/payment is forfeited.

    Weather & Winter
    Winter courses/trips are rain or shine. If SMG cancels a booking due to weather, we will reschedule you for an alternate date of your choice.

Course Information

The AIARE 1 course is expected to:

  • 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 “answers.”
  • Give lessons and exercises that are practically oriented, useful, and applicable in the field.

At the end of the AIARE 1 course the student should be able to:

  • Develop a plan for travel in avalanche terrain.
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify avalanche terrain.
  • Effectively use the AIARE Decision Making Framework to make terrain choices in a group setting
  • Demonstrate effective companion rescue.
Instructional sessions (24 hours including both class and field instruction):

1. Introduction to 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
  • Snowpack tests: rutschblock, compression test
  • Avalanche danger factors or “Red Flags”
  • Observation checklist
  • Avalanche danger scale

3. Trip Planning and Preparation

  • Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment, and selection
  • Route finding and travel techniques
  • Decision making and Human Factors

4. Companion Rescue and Equipment

Prerequisites

Students must be able to travel in avalanche terrain and bring appropriate equipment (backcountry skis, splitboard, snowshoes, etc.) for traveling on snow to class. There are no other prerequisites.

Required equipment for all avalanche courses:
  • Ski socks
  • Long underwear top and bottom
  • Fleece or softshell pants
  • Fleece Jacket
  • Hard shell (Gore-Tex or other waterproof/breathable) pants/bibs and jacket
  • Puffy coat (synthetic or down)
  • Warm hat
  • Balaclava/neck warmer
  • 1 pr. approach/lightweight gloves
  • 1 pr. warm waterproof gloves or mitts
  • Goggles
  • Sunglasses
  • Day pack (approx. 3000 cu. in)
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • 2 liters of water or thermos
  • Lunch and snacks for each day
  • Lip balm
  • Sun screen
  • Alpine touring or Telemark skis or Splitboard with skins, or Snowboard and snowshoes, or just snowshoes.
  • Ski Boots
  • Ski poles
  • Helmet
Optional equipment:
  • Repair kit
  • camera
  • altimeter watch
  • first aid kit
  • Mt. Washington map
  • compass

We will supply you with beacon, probe and shovel, but if you have your own, please let us know. You will also be receiving from us an AIARE Field Book and the AIARE 1 Student Manual.

Based on AIARE recommendations and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our winter 2020/2021 AIARE 1 courses will consist 4 hours of online learning (at a time of your choosing), a live 3 hour evening lesson via Zoom two days before your course start date, and 2 full days in the field. The online learning and live Zoom lesson replace the traditional classroom day.

The “start date” of your course is the first field day. Here is a sample itinerary for an AIARE 1 course with dates of March 20-21, with the start date of March 20:

SAMPLE ITINERARY

  • Now to March 17: Complete the AIARE 1 online learning module.
  • March 18 at 6:00 PM: Lesson via Zoom with entire course.
  • March 20: Field Day #1 – Meet at the Synnott Mountain Guides office at 8:00 AM, dressed and packed for a field day. We’ll conclude the day around 4:30 PM.
  • March 21: Field Day #2 – Meet at 8:00 AM at location designated by instructor. We’ll conclude the day around 4:30 PM.

Your instructor will be in touch before your course with full specific schedule and location details.

For the 2020/21 season, Synnott Mountain Guides and AIARE are committed to providing avalanche education in a safe and responsible manner. Avalanche educators preach the value of adjusting to changing conditions, which now includes the COVID-19 pandemic. With your help, we’ll be learning about mountain safety while also respecting state and local health guidelines.

This season, the lecture portion of the AIARE 1 course will take place online before the course begins. There will be a four hour online learning module which can be completed any time between now and your course date. In addition, your class will meet together live via Zoom for three hours. This live video conference will take place from 6 to 9PM eastern time, two days prior to your first field day. During the Zoom lesson/meeting, your instructor will cover the gear list in detail. This will help ensure we all arrive dressed for the outdoors.

The “start date” of your course is the first field day for your class. You’ll meet your instructor team outdoors at our office at 279 NH-16, Intervale, NH 03860. We’ll then drive our own vehicles to our field location for the day.

Here is a sample itinerary for an AIARE 1 course with dates of March 20-21, with the start date of March 20:

  • Now to March 17: Complete the AIARE 1 online learning module.
  • March 18 at 6:00 PM: Online lesson/meeting via Zoom with entire course.
  • March 20: Field Day #1 – Meet at the Synnott Mountain Guides office at 8:00 AM, dressed and packed for a field day. We’ll conclude the day around 4:30 PM.
  • March 21: Field Day #2 – Meet at 8:00 AM at location designated by instructor. We’ll conclude the day around 4:30 PM.

This season is presenting challenges that none of us have ever faced before. But with some patience and creative thinking, we’ll enjoy another fun and educational winter.

How do I know when the 3 hour Zoom lesson/meeting will be?

The 3 hour Zoom lesson/meeting always occurs two days before your course start date at 6:00 PM eastern time. As an example, if your course start date is March 20, then your Zoom lesson will be on March 18 at 6:00 PM eastern time.

Will masks be required?

Face coverings such as a cloth mask, buff, or bandanna will be required equipment. Any time you’re within 6 feet of another person, you’ll need to wear your mask. While hiking and skiing, we’ll space out farther than 6 feet whenever possible. A mask isn’t just for your own protection — it shows that you respect the health of your fellow students and instructors.

How large will groups be?

Our field groups typically consist of seven people, including the instructor. Private courses are available if you inquire very early in the season, and pricing will vary.

Won’t it be cold meeting outside to start the field days?

Meeting outside will be a necessary evil if you wish to take an AIARE course this season. We’ll all be meeting dressed for the outdoors, and you can wait in your car until we’re ready to hit the trail.

Will Tuckerman Ravine be open?

This is an impossible question to answer. But contrary to popular belief, wild avalanche terrain exists far beyond Tuckerman Ravine and we have many location options in the White Mountains for AIARE 1 course field days.

Mountains, Cliffs, & Routes

Conditions permitting, this course will take place in a variety of terrain on Mount Washington. We may also utilize other steep/open terrain in the White Mountains such as Crawford Notch.

Difficulty

Beginner - Advanced

Length

3 Days

Season

Winter

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