AIARE Level 1 in Crested Butte

3 days
16+ years
1–12 people

The AIARE Level 1 course is a must for any winter backcountry endeavors. In our three day (24 hour) course, participants will learn how to recognize hazards and potential dangers while managing and minimizing risk in avalanche terrain.

Going into the backcountry is easy and fun. Making correct and safe decisions aren’t always straightforward when you’re in the field. With every ski tour and expedition, there is a lot to consider and take into account when on the slopes. Because of this, avalanche awareness is just as important as avalanche prevention.

The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) is the American standard that drives and informs your curriculum.  All of our guides are certified and will use their extensive experience when guiding each  participant.

Here’s the what we’ll cover in the classroom and outside

You’ll learn how to prepare and plan for a backcountry tour. We’ll also study and analyze avalanche forecasts. We cover basic rescue techniques and go over the finer points of group management. Look forward to learning about:

  • What to look for and identify in avalanche terrain & avalanche types
  • Hazardous conditions and how to recognize them
  • The basics of snow pack understanding
  • Route selection and terrain features
  • Snowpack tests and interpretation
  • Educated decision making
Prerequisites for your avalanche course

All participants should have some winter travel experience (ski, snowboard, snow shoe, snow mobile, etc). Backcountry experience is not necessary but do take some time to familiarize yourself with your backcountry travel equipment.

In the time leading up to the course we highly recommend reading Snow Sense: A Guide to Evaluating Snow Avalanche Hazard by Fredston and Fesler.

Check out the dates available for booking below
  • December 7th-9th, 26th-28th, or 29th-31th
  • January 4th-6th or 25th-27th
  • February 8th-10th or 22nd-24th
  • March 8th-10th

After completing this course be sure to take AIARE Avalanche Rescue and AIARE Level 2 to hone your averse terrain skills and be up to date on best practices.

Where we are
Class Location
Crested Butte, CO
Meeting Location
Irwin Guides
What is included
  • AIARE Level 1 Course Manual
  • AIARE Field Book
  • AIARE Level 1 certificate upon successful completion of course
What's not included

Lodging, food, avalanche safety gear, backcountry touring gear.

Avalanche safety gear and backcountry touring set-ups and be rented for an additional fee.

What to bring

A detailed equipment list will be provided upon registration.

Why book through 57hours?

We’re an adventure loving, rock climbing, tech company that loves all things outdoors-y. Why spend days looking for the right guide and adrenaline rush, when we can (and already did) do it for you? Want a serious guide for a challenging backcountry tour? We know a bunch. How about a guide to show you around the Alps? Check. Maybe your kids want to ski and won’t stop going on about it until you book them a trip. Yes, we know guides who are great for beginners, too. Oh, yeah, every guide we know prioritizes SAFETY and FUN. Book with 57hours, we’ve done your work for you. You’re welcome.

Guides running this program

Steve Banks

Steve is a fully certified AMGA/IFMGA licensed mountain guide. This is the highest level of international guiding certification in the world and is held by only a handful of American guides. Steve has lived in the Gunnison Valley since 1995, but is a frequent traveller climbing, skiing and guiding all over the world. Steve is an EMT, AIARE Level 1 & 2 avalanche course leader, has been a forecaster and the Executive Director for the Crested Butte Avalanche Center, worked for the Crested Butte Professional Ski Patrol and is currently helping to train the next generation of AMGA mountain guides. Steve is a Mammut sponsored athlete and the Global Guide Director for Irwin Guides. Check out his website at Specialties: Rock climbing, mountaineering, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, cat skiing, backcountry skiing, ski mountaineering, ice climbing, winter mountaineering, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and avalanche education.

Megan Paden

Megan Paden moved to Crested Butte in 1995 after earning a degree in Exercise Physiology from KU. During her first winter working as a ski instructor, she immediately became hooked on the adventurous mountain lifestyle and decided to make Crested Butte her home. She has spent the last 18 years employed within the ski industry and exploring the surrounding mountains with her husband, 2 boys and variety of four legged friends. Megan has worked with the Crested Butte Professional Ski Patrol for the last 12 years, holding credentials as a Colorado Blaster in Charge, Emergency Medical Technician and Avalanche Level 1 and 2 certifications. She has been a member of the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse snow safety team for 3 years, worked as a guide with the previous Irwin Lodge and returned to Irwin to guide since it's reopening. When the seasons change, Megan stays busy running a garden design business and balancing free time between her family, horses and kayak. She feels lucky to work in the mountains and enjoys sharing the experience with others. She looks forward to another abundant Irwin winter.

Ian Havlick

Ian is a Colorado native who has been playing in mountains all his life. After learning what true powder skiing was while captaining the University of Utah Nordic Ski Team in Salt Lake City, Ian decided to retire from ski racing around groomed gerbil loops and become an avalanche professional and mountain guide. Ian comes to Irwin Guides with extensive backcountry experience across the Western United States as well as the Canadian Rockies, Alaska, Norway, and Iceland. He has been guiding since 2001. Ian has guided several trips on Denali in Alaska for Mountain Trip International and has worked for Telluride Helitrax. Ian is an AMGA Certified Ski Guide and is pursuing IFMGA certification in Rock and Alpine disciplines. Ian holds AIARE Level III avalanche certification and forecasts for the Crested Butte Avalanche Center and is a Professional Member of the American Avalanche Association. Ian also guides fly fishing trips for Irwin Guides here in Crested Butte, and for several outfitters in central Idaho. Specialties: Fly fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, back packing, mountaineering, rafting, cat skiing, ski mountaineering, ice climbing, winter mountaineering, cross country skiing, snow shoeing and avalanche education.