AIARE Level 2

AIARE Level 2 Hut Based Avalanche course

Analyzing Snow Stability and Avy Hazard

Our Level 2 Avalanche Course is a 3 day program that provides backcountry travelers the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills. This course also includes the introductory and prerequisite components for the professional progression: the Level 3 Certificate. The Level 3 course is offered through AIARE only. Please refer to their website for details and information related to this course.

Students who participate in the Level 2 Course will be required to perform skills introduced in their previous Level 1 Course such as trip planning and hazard recognition, terrain selection and route finding, and snow stability tests among other basic skills.


For 2018 our Level 2 courses will be run at the Addie S Cabin, the Artist Cabin or the Captain Yurt, which are situated near Red Mountain Pass (RMP) in the the San Juan Mountains!  This includes 2 nights of lodging at the hut as well as breakfasts & dinners. These are drive-to huts right off the road near the top of RMP. The huts are stocked with a full kitchen, running water, wood stove, and electricity. The most convenient huts in the San Juans! The Captain Yurt is a short 30 minute ski tour in from the parking.

Level 2 Avalanche Course

The SJMG Difference

We know that you have many choices when selecting where and with whom to take your Level 2 Avalanche Course. When considering these factors, keep in mind the following facts when making your decision. San Juan Mountain Guides has been offering formal avalanche courses since 1992. Our program and course curriculum has been meticulously customized by AMGA Certified Ski Mtn/IFMGA Guides and former Ski/Snow Patrol Professionals. We offer the most comprehensive access to terrain in the San Juan Mountains – from the Sneffels Range to both the North and South sides of Red Mountain Pass and all the way to Coal Bank Pass. No other guide service or avalanche school in the region can offer this variety of terrain as part of their program.

AVY Course Comparisons SJMG Others
22 Years of Experience YES ???
Customized by IFMGA/AMGA Ski Mtn Guides YES ???
Developed by Ski/Snow Patrol Pros YES ???
Taught by IFMGA/AMGA Ski Mtn Guides YES ???
Unlimited Terrain Access in San Juans YES ???
Course Options in Durango & Ouray YES ???
BC Skiing Components Taught YES ???
Hut Based Course Options YES ???

The Curriculum

We feature exclusively IFMGA/AMGA Certified Guides on this program for both classroom and field instructions sessions.  Our collective knowledge of the Level 2 curriculum, access to backcountry ski terrain in the San Juan Mountains, and course logistics make this course the choice of recreational enthusiasts and aspiring professionals alike.  The Level 2 Course combines 32 hours of both classroom and field sessions to achieve the following learning outcomes, in addition to a thorough review of Level I course materials.

  • Advanced understanding of snow stability analysis
  • Snowpack metamorphism and spatial variability
  • Learn standard observation guidelines and recording formats
  • Advanced understanding of avalanche release and trigger mechanisms
  • Avalanche forecasting framework
  • Improved rescue skills including multiple and deep burials

We meet at 0800 on the first day and spend a full day in the classroom covering terminology and general avalanche principles. The following three days are spent in the field between Coal Bank Pass and Red Mountain Pass, in the San Juan Mountains.

Excellent instructors. Their knowledge of the Level 2 material was extensive. Thanks again for making me more aware of the dynamics of snowpack instability! – Kerry H.


Call 800.642.5389 to Reserve

Register Now Online

Avy 2 Itinerary

Day 1

Classroom day. Meet at our office (725 Main St. Ouray) at 0800 to finalize course paperwork. The group will then begin the classroom portion of the class. This will serve as a complete introduction to the course. There will be a 1 hour lunch, then the group will go to Red Mountain Pass for a field session. At the end of the day the group will settle in at the hut. The day will finish at approximately 6:00pm. Stay at hut.

Day 2

Field session, 0800-1600. Today we will spend the entire day in the field. Topics covered will include data pit construction, beacon searching, companion rescue. Instructors will demonstrate each topic and then students will practice under observation. Evening class session 1800-2100. Stay at hut.

Day 3

Field session, 0800-1600. Today we will complete a tour on Red Mountain Pass. Students will be asked to make decisions with regard to route finding, and terrain management. We’ll select a slope to ski and assess the stability of the slope for descent purposes. Course evaluations completed.


Backcountry Skiing Equipment List

  • Day-Tour backpack: Internal frame, 25-40 liters.
  • Touring Skis or Splitboard: Skis with alpine-touring or telemark bindings (or splitboard).
  • Ski or Snowboard Boots
  • Poles: preferably adjustable
  • Climbing Skins
  • Avalanche Transceiver: with fresh batteries
  • Probe
  • Avy Shovel: metal blade is a must
  • Snow Study Kit
  • Ski Repair Kit
  • Goggles
  • Ski Helmet


  • Socks: Wool or synthetic ski socks
  • Base Layers: Polyester, wool or silk bottom and top
  • Mid-Weight Top : Synthetic t-shirt and synthetic underwear
  • Shell Pants: hard shell or soft shell. A pair with side vents are best.
  • Insulated vest: down or synthetic for extra core warmth.
  • Hard Shell Jacket: waterproof and breathable, no insulation.
  • Gloves: a pair of heavy gloves and a pair of medium to thin weight gloves.
  • Down jacket or Insulated Parka
  • Hats: one with brim, one for warmth
  • Neck Gaiter or Balaclava
  • Sunglasses

Other Stuff

  • Sleeping Bag: for use on beds at hut
  • Small Thermos: Optional, but nice to have
  • Water Bottles: 2 liters
  • Sunscreen and Lip Balm: water/sweat-proof
  • Headlamp
  • Toiletries
  • Personal First Aid Kit: for your personal meds/needs; guide will have a large one as well
  • Stuff sacks: for convenient packing
  • Camera
  • Lunch Food & Snacks: Everything you eat between breakfast and dinner. May include: bagels, dried meats, cheese, trail mix, candy bars, peanut butter, etc…
  • Hut Clothes, Booties/ Slippers
  • Duffel or additional backpack: if your hut necessities will not fit in your touring backpack


Participants will need to have an established method of backcountry travel for field days (skis and skins, or snowshoes). An AIARE Level 1 Course or equivalent training/experience is required. These courses take place outside in winter conditions. All participants need to be prepared for physical exertion in cold and perhaps poor weather. Participants will need to have appropriate clothing and gear.

1Before Your Trip

Skiing and/or squats: do it. Cardiovascular activities such as running, swimming, and cycling are great to build heart and lung endurance. Taking day hikes with your loaded backpack at a local park will help train your legs for the mileage you will do in the mountains.

2Follow Up Programs

I enjoyed being in the company of our instructors. It was an educational experience just watching them in their element. They rocked. Also, it was great to be hands-on in the field for 2 days; learning experimentally is the kicker for this and all technical skill courses. Getting ski beta and seeing terrain that I can go ski anytime was a great plus. This course seemed to also focus on the application for avy knowledge for the backcountry skier………Yes! – Taylor H.

Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here

Ouray is located in the SW corner of Colorado, approximately 30 minutes south of Montrose. Known as “The Switzerland of America”, the town of Ouray is a vibrant outdoor oriented community. All local businesses are very friendly to the ice climbers who flock each winter to climb in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding areas.

View Larger Map

Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Montrose, CO. Many airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, CO. It is also possible to fly into Durango, CO, Telluride, CO, or Albuquerque, NM. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of either of these airports.

Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Ouray. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.

  • Montrose, CO: 45 mins
  • Durango, CO: 2 hours
  • Denver, CO: 6 hours
  • Albuquerque, NM: 4.5 hours
  • Salt Lake City, UT: 6 hours

Hotels: Ouray has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suit you best for this trip!


Additional Information

  • Cost Includes:
  • Guiding and instruction
  • Hut fees at the Addie S
  • Breakfasts and dinners while on the course
  • Level 2 avalanche course manual
  • AIARE Field Book
  • AIARE completion certificate
  • Transportation to the hut
  • Avalanche probe, shovel, and beacon
  • Touring equipment (skis/snowboard, boots, skins) are available to rent from our shop.

  • Not Included:

  • SWAG Manual
  • The Avalanche Handbook (McClung & Schaerer)
  • Hotel costs before, during or after the courses
  • 5% land use surcharge
  • trip cancellation insurance
  • personal climbing, skiing, or camping equipment, or gratuities.
  • Instructor gratuity
  • Field lunches

  • Registration and Cancellation:
  • Advance Registration is required for this program.  You have the option to either call our office and register via phone, fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email, or utilize our secure Online Reservation System.  All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.

Call 800.642.5389 to Reserve

Register Now Online

/* ]]> */