Level 1 Refresh

AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Refresher

Level 1 Review Course

This is the best way to update your previous Level 1 avalanche course. We will present annual information updates including new technology and techniques along with new resources for information to keep you current. The field travel portion of the course presents realistic decision making excercises along with a valuable rescue practice drill including full-scene management with transceiver, probe, and shovel. We all need to practice!

I especially enjoyed the small class size in the classroom, and in the field. The instructor, Aaron Ball, was very personable, thorough, and professional. I am planning on continuing on with the Level 2 course this coming winter, and strongly recommend the Level 1 course and SWAG to my friends and clients, who pursue and are planning on pursing activities in avalanche country. – Joe S.


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Level 1 Refresher Itinerary

The Level 1 Refresher is a 12 hour course, with a 3 hour classroom session on Saturday afternoon (1330 – 1630), then a longer travel day in the field on Sunday (0800 – 1700).

Classroom session will include:

  • Interpret the Avalanche Forecast
  • Map reading lesson
  • Group member assessment
  • Create a tour plan
  • Review Observations Checklist
  • Personal/Group gear check
  • Risk management plan review

Field Session will include:

  • Terrain travel, group management
  • Observations and information gathering
  • Terrain identification and utilization
  • Hazard recognition
  • Travel techniques
  • Spontaneous tests
  • Bonding tests
  • Enroute decision making
  • New rescue equipment demo
  • Strategic shoveling
  • Complete rescue practice including multi-burial

Backcountry Skiing Equipment List

  • Day-tour backpack: Internal frame, 25-40 liters. Guides’ pick: BCA Float 32
  • Touring skis or splitboard and boots: Skis with alpine-touring or telemark bindings (or splitboard). Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Revert w/ Dynafit bindings
  • Skins: for aforementioned skis
  • Avalanche Transceiver: Guides’ pick: BCA Tracker 2
  • Probe
  • Avy shovel: metal blade is a must


  • Socks: Wool or synthetic ski socks
  • Base layers: Polyester 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. Guides’ pick: OR TrailBreaker
  • Insulated vest: down or synthetic. Guides’ pick: OR Transcendent
  • Hard shell jacket: waterproof and breathable, no insulation. Guides’ Pick: OR Furio
  • Gloves: a pair of heavy gloves and a pair of medium weight gloves
  • Down jacket: optional, but nice to have
  • Hats: one with brim, one for warmth
  • Neck Gaiter or Balaclava: optional, but nice to have
  • Sunglasses
  • Goggles

Other Stuff

  • Small thermos: Optional, but nice to have
  • Water bottles: 2 liters combined capacity; with bottle insulators. Guides’ pick: Nalgene
  • 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: Everything you eat between breakfast and dinner. May include: bagels, dried meats, cheese, trail mix, candy bars, peanut butter, etc…


Participants will need to have an established method of backcountry travel for field days (skis or splitboard with skins, or snowshoes). 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 warm, winter 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.

Durango, Colorado: Getting Here

Durango is located in the SW corner of Colorado, at the intersection of the sandstone towers of the desert, and the jagged, San Juan Mountains. A mecca for climbing, hiking, cycling, and foodies; make sure you plan to spend some time in town before and after your SJMG trip.

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Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Durango – La Plata County Airport. Multiple airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, Phoenix, or Dallas. The airport is a 20 minute drive from our office. Many hotels offer a free shuttle pickup. Buckhorn Limousine offers a shuttle as well.

Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Durango. 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.

  • Denver, CO: 6 hours
  • Albuquerque, NM: 3 hours

Hotels: Durango 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! Below are just a few options catering to different lodging styles and preferences.


Additional Information

  • Cost Includes:
  • AIARE Qualified Instructors and AMGA Certified/Trained Guides
  • Use of avalanche probe, shovel, and beacon
  • Touring boots, skis, and climbing skins are available for rent from our shop for an additional cost.

  • Not Included:

  • 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.

Download the pdf Form

Register Now Online

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