AIARE LEVEL 1
Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain
Do you spend time backcountry skiing or snowboarding, winter hiking, mountaineering or ice climbing? It doesn’t matter if you’re staying in the Northeast or heading out West, you owe it to yourself and your companions to learn all you can about avalanche hazard management. This 3 day/ 24 hour introductory course will provide you with a basic understanding of avalanches.
The American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) Level I Course is a 3-day program that combines classroom work with field experience to provide a solid basis for decision-making in avalanche terrain. We’ll cover such topics as recognizing avalanche-prone slopes, assessing avalanche hazards on-site, route-finding and travel techniques, and skills and equipment for companion rescue.
The AIARE Level I course is a 3 day/24 hour introduction to avalanche hazard management. The course is expected to:
1) Provide a basic understanding of avalanches
2) Describe a framework for decision making and risk management in avalanche terrain
3) Focus on identifying the right questions, rather than on providing “answers.”
4) Give lessons and exercises that are practically oriented, useful, and applicable in the field.
5) 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 rescue techniques required to find and dig up a buried person (if an avalanche occurs and someone in the party is caught).
6) A final debrief includes a knowledge quiz to test student comprehension and to give feedback to instructors on instructional tools. Students are encouraged and counseled on how to apply the skills learned and told that no course can fully guarantee safety, either during or after course completion. A link is made to a future AIARE Level II course.
At the end of the AIARE Level I course the student should be able to:
1) Plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain
2) Recognize avalanche terrain
3) Describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain
4) Learn and apply effective companion rescue
Instructional sessions (24 hours including both class and field instruction):
Introduction to the Avalanche Phenomena
a.Types and characteristics of avalanches
b. Avalanche motion
c. Size classification
d. The mountain snowpack: an introduction to metamorphism and layering
Observations and Information Gathering Field observation techniques
a. Bonding tests: rutschblock, compression test
b. Avalanche danger factors; “Red Flags”
c. Observation checklist
d. Avalanche danger scale
e. Trip planning and preparation
f. Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment, and selection
g. Route finding and travel techniques
h. Decision making and human factors
i. Companion rescue and equipment
This is a sanctioned curriculum offered by AIARE trained instructors, and an AIARE Certificate of Completion is granted to all participants who complete the course.
Skill Level: Beginner
Length: 3 days, 8 hours each day
Prerequisites: No prior backcountry experience required. Potential skiers and riders should be comfortable on intermediate/ advanced terrain (blue square/ black diamond terrain). If unsure of your skiing/riding ability call us to talk more about the conditions and terrain. If you are not skiing/boarding, please bring snowshoes.
GPS Coordinates: 44.208333,-71.405
U.S. 302, Bretton Woods, NH 03575
Lodging Information: 603-466-2727 / http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/whitemountains/highland/
New York courses meet at the Adirondak Loj at Heart Lake
GPS Coordinates: 44° 10′ 57.5″ N, 073° 57′ 58.6″ W
1002 Adirondack Loj Road
Lake Placid, NY 12946-0867
Lodging Information: 518-523-3441 / http://www.adk.org/ad_loj/
David grew up skiing in the Whites and started climbing at a summer camp just north of Mt. Washington when he was 16. Those first couple of years solidified climbing as a lifetime passion. From 1996-2000 he served in the USMC, and spent the better part of those years traveling the globe (18 countries).
After returning to civilian life he moved to North Conway to focus on climbing and was hired in 2004 as a Rock and Ice Instructor. Since then Dave has taken numerous AMGA courses, most recently attaining a Single Pitch Instructor. He has completed a Level 3 AIARE avalanche course, is a Level 2 Course Leader, holds a valid Wilderness First Responder and is a member of Mountain Rescue Service.
When David isn’t out climbing or guiding people on the cliffs, he enjoys mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, skiing, and sampling new micro-brews. He lives in Conway, NH with his wife Michelle, son Alex, and their dog, Bear.
Follow Dave’s guiding blog at http://davidlottmann.wordpress.com/
Day 3- On this day your instructor will advise you where and when to meet but plan to be outdoors for the entire day. On this day you will be traveling into the backcountry so have your skis/ board/ snowshoes prepped and ready the night before. Each day will wrap up around 4:30pm.
Don’t settle for additional gear rental fee’s. All avalanche equipment is included at no extra cost for these courses. However, if you have your own beacon it will be to your benefit to practice using your own device.
For AIARE Level 1 & 2 courses, the EMS Climbing School will provide beacon, probe, shovel, Avalanche Field Book, AIARE Student Manual, mountaineering Boots (optional), snowshoes (optional), crampons (optional)
Required Gear & Clothing
There’s no way around it. You sweat. Wear fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin. Unlike 100% cotton that gets wet and stays wet, wicking fabrics help you regulate your core temperature and avoid overheating or chilling. Great examples include EMS® Techwick® T1 and T2 polyester which wicks, packs, wears, and washes like nothing else. Top and Bottom. Light to mid-weight synthetics, snug fit and close to skin.
Mid-layers add mild insulation to help retain heat that your body creates, and are worn between the base layer and insulation if needed. Examples of over base layers are EMS® Techwick® T2 or T3 or any lightweight wool shirt. Top and Bottom. Light-weight fleece or heavy-weight EMS® Techwick®. Power-Stretch and micro-fleece are ideal materials for this layer. No heavy, 300 weight fleece trousers—you will be over-dressed.
Mid-layers add insulation to help retain heat that your body creates, and are worn between the base layer and outer jacket. Examples of insulating mid-layers include a fleece vest, a down sweater, or a synthetic jacket made of Prima Loft® or Thermore®. Jacket only. 200 to 300 weight fleece, heavy weight soft shell or light weight Prima-Loft sweater.
Forget about bulky coats. Wear an outer shell (over your base and insulation layer) to shed water and snow. Layering will give you more versatility, depending on the weather and your activity. Outerwear that is waterproof with increased breath ability will be more adaptable and can help transfer moisture away from your body to keep you dry and protected from the elements. Jackets and pants. EMS System III, Gortex®, or similar waterproof/breathable material. Jacket MUST have an integrated hood. Flimsy “stow-away” nylon hoods are not adequate. Full side zip on pants are very helpful.
This crucial layer is often added when you stop for a break. It helps to maintain your body temperature while you are resting and is essential for keeping you warm on those cold descents and during inconvenient breaks above treeline in high winds. This layer is generally worn over your outermost layers–yes, even over your Gore-Tex® or System Three® jacket.
We recommend having 3 pair of gloves/mittens with you. Glove liners are very useful for the more aerobic approach to your climb. Gloves (like ski gloves) with a windproof/waterproof shell are a must for higher elevations and more technical climbing. Mittens with a windproof/waterproof shell are essential for those colder temperatures at higher elevations (tip: you will not be dexterous in mittens, so if you couple a pair of liner gloves inside your mittens, you can have both!)
You’ve probably heard that most of your body heat escapes from your head. When you’re feeling cold the first piece to add to your clothing system is a hat. This hat should cover your ears and can be made of fleece or wool. Remember to fit the hat so you can wear it under a helmet.
How many times have your feet been way too cold? Wool or wool blend socks are great natural insulators, even when wet. For most cold-weather sports, wear wicking liner socks and mid weight wool or synthetic socks. Make sure you fit footwear with heavier socks for more warmth. No matter how thick your socks are, if your footwear constricts your toes, your blood flow will slow down and cause your feet to be cold–fit your shoes accordingly.
A properly fitted pack will make your day 100 times better! It is essential to have a pack which has a comfortable hip belt to help support the bulk of the weight. Use a pack large enough to stow all of your gear on the inside without having to strap any of your personal gear on the outside where it is exposed to the elements. Tip: Pack your pack with your gear before you arrive and make sure you still have enough room to stow your puffy jacket, gortex jacket, and extra warm layers for the initial hike in. This will save an enormous amount of time in the morning!
When the temperatures drop and the wind picks up, the skin on your face becomes very vulnerable to frost-nip, and even worse, frostbite. Wearing a balaclava adds protection and warmth to your clothing system.
Required for skiers and riders
This is another crucial item for any backcountry trip. Mother Nature doesn’t always provide us with light so we bring our own. Carry an LED headlamp with extra batteries for when She decides to flip the switch. If you are caught in the dark, getting back to your car can take 3-4 times as long without light!
Fuel your body. In the mountains, lunch starts when breakfast ends and ends when dinner starts. In other words, we eat all day. A typical climber or skier will consume about 3,500 calories during the course of a day. Pack foods that don’t freeze hard, cover all the food groups and are easy to eat. Pre-make peanut butter sandwiches, or bring last night’s pizza, and those oh-so delicious candy bars. Carry your bars inside your jacket to keep them warm and gooey.
Wide-mouth water bottles are recommended for winter. 2+ liters is a minimum to keep us hydrated during the day. Please, do not use hydration systems, metal water bottles, or thin plastic, Poland Springs, narrow-mouthed bottles. All of these systems freeze easily making the water unavailable to you. Before coming to the school, please consume ¾ to a liter of water. This will ensure you are starting your day well hydrated.
**Required for AIARE Level 2 ONLY**
Crystal screen (black metal preferred), loupe, folding metric ruler, clinometer, celsius thermometer. Items sold individually at www.avtraining.org
Available from AIARE’s online store at www.avtraining.org, or Amazon.com.
Skis or split boards with climbing skins. Day 3 will take place in the backcountry near avalanche terrain. You will have the option to ski or board up and then down at the end of the day. Snowshoers will follow the hiking trail back down on foot. For NH courses- AT/ Telemark rentals available from North Conway EMS 603-356-5433. **Skiers and boarders are reqired to wear helmets on descent.
Water bottle insulator
Hand/ foot warmers
1) When packing clothing for your outing, do not pack any more clothing than you can wear at once. If we empty your pack and you can’t wear all your clothes because you packed too many layers, you will need to eliminate some clothes.
2) If you are doing a multi-day program, remember all this gear needs to be worn for multiple days. If it will not dry over night please bring extra for the following day(s). Although we have tricks for drying your synthetic long underwear in the tent, its nice to have a spare set of “next to skin” layers and socks to wear while your other clothes are drying.
3) If you need help determining which layers to wear, bring more rather than less, and ask us to help you pack. Drop us an email or call with questions. Remember we are out there every day.
Not Included With Course Fee: Students will be expected to arrive dressed appropriately for the weather. See gear list for required gear and clothing. Students will be responsible for lodging, meals, transportation, *skis and *skins.
*these items can be rented from Eastern Mountain Sports. Helmet must be worn by all skiers/ riders.
1) Cancellations or schedule changes 8 DAYS OR MORE PRIOR to the event start date will be fully refunded or credited with no penalty.
2) Reservation changes of any kind WITHIN 7 DAYS OF THE EVENT START DATE WILL NOT BE REFUNDED and you WILL NOT be permitted to carry over deposits to future events. Please mark this date on your calender after making your reservation!
**EMS Climbing School does not provide any transportation unless otherwise specified.
**For participants 17 or younger, a parent MUST sign a waiver form for EACH days course.
If you have any questions please call 800-310-4504. We will be more than happy to review our cancellation policy with you.