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Lake Tahoe | California

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course in Lake Tahoe

57hours Icon season


Mid-December through May

57hours Icon nearest-city

Nearest city

San Francisco, CA, is 3.5 hours away by car

57hours Icon duration


2 days

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Skill level

Beginner to advanced

An essential intro course for safe backcountry touring

This comprehensive two-day introductory course is designed for participants with basic ski or splitboard touring experience looking to develop a good foundation of essential backcountry skills and avalanche rescue techniques. A self-paced online learning component, including a live meeting with your instructor, is followed up with two days in the field, learning how to prepare for and carry out a backcountry trip, understand basic decision-making while in the field, terrain recognition and avalanche rescue techniques. The outdoor classroom of Lake Tahoe backcountry consists of some of the best terrain in the region to begin your avalanche education!

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AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course in Lake Tahoe

$675 per person · 2 Days

Adapted for the 2020/21 season, the new version of the course carefully crafted by AIARE will take your backcountry skills to the next level. Explore the backcountry with a guide and learn the basics of avalanche rescue and risk management. The online self-paced course followed by two field days in the Lake Tahoe area will teach you how to plan and carry out a backcountry tour safely. This education opens the door to explore new areas with the confidence that you have the knowledge to stay safe in unfamiliar terrain.

Trip Highlights

This two-day intro course designed according to the curriculum established by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) is perfect for anyone looking to spend more time in the backcountry.

What you’ll learn:

1. Introduction to the 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, extended column 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

Things you need to know

Covid measures in Lake Tahoe, CA

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Lake Tahoe, please refer to the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and Government of California websites.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

Why should I book with 57hours?

With us, it’s all play and no work for you! 57hours is an open platform that connects you with trained and certified outdoor adventure professionals all over the world. Using our tech-savvy, we make it super easy to find and book adventures worth tackling, with guides worth booking, all gathered from the first-hand experiences of the locals who adventure in these amazing locations.

What can I expect from this course?

During your self-paced online class, you will learn AIARE Level 1 skills. By spending two days in the Lake Tahoe backcountry, you will learn and implement new skills and techniques. By the end of the AIARE Level 1 Course you should be able to:

    • Develop a plan for travel in avalanche terrain
    • Demonstrate the ability to identify avalanche terrain
    • Effectively use the AIARE Risk Management Framework to make terrain choices in a group setting
    • Demonstrate effective companion rescue

What’s included?

What you get in this adventure:

    • An experienced AIARE certified instructor
    • Two full days in the field
    • Self-paced online classes

What’s not included:

    • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
    • Trip insurance
    • Accommodation
    • Transport to and from Lake Tahoe and the meeting point
    • Meals and snacks

How fit do I need to be?

In order to enjoy this avalanche course, you need to have an excellent level of fitness. Skiers must be able to hike for many hours at a time while carrying a small pack.

What equipment do I need to bring?

For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:

  • Alpine touring skis, telemark skis or splitboard with skins (can be rented)
  • Touring boots and poles (can be rented)
  • Avalanche safety equipment (can be rented):
    • Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
    • Lightweight snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe

For personal items, we recommend bringing:

  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses or ski goggles
  • Gloves and hat
  • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-tex recommended)
  • Ski pants (Gore-tex recommended)
  • Down jacket or vest
  • Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
  • One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
  • Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
  • Water bottle and 1L of water
  • Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
  • Food you can eat on-the-go
  • First-aid kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
  • Camera — optional

Can I rent equipment?

All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. You can rent:

  • Avalanche safety pack, including backpack, beacon, shovel and probe from your guide
  • Alpine touring or telemark skis, splitboards, touring boots and poles can be rented from your guide

If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.

What’s the itinerary?

Digital Learning — Self Paced & Live Meeting
The digital component of the new AIARE 1 course will comprise both a self paced version and a live online meeting with your instructor and other students in your class.

Field Day 1
A meet and greet with your group of 6 students and single instructor will be completed outdoors, likely at a trailhead. The day will comprise an easy tour with stops through the day to work on terrain recognition and rescue skills.

Field Day 2
The final day of the course builds on the prior day, culminating in a full planning session and execution of a backcountry tour.

What is the minimum age requirement?

  • Everybody over the age of 18 is welcome to book this backcountry skiing adventure.
  • Minors may be permitted to join the course on a case-by-case basis. If you plan to take the course with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

What about group sizes and pricing?

For this course, the max client to guide ratio is 6:1. The cost is per person and does not change due to the group size.

If you’d like to take a private course with just an instructor and your own group, AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course in Lake Tahoe can be customized to your group’s specific needs. Contact us to make arrangements.

What about bad weather?

Mitigating avalanche risk is paramount for any excursion in the backcountry — that’s why it’s best to tour with a guide! Rest assured, your guide will set objectives that are attainable for the weather conditions on that particular day. Of course, inclement weather can always get in the way of backcountry skiing, but your guide will know the best course of action to take if the weather takes a turn.

On the rare occasion of truly bad weather, your guide will present you with suitable, safe alternatives. The most common practice is to move to a nearby location if it exists, or to reschedule your backcountry ski tour to a more favorable day.

If backcountry skiing is not possible on your scheduled day and no options presented are viable, you will be issued a full refund.

Do I need an insurance policy?

We highly recommended that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance. With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more.

If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

Cancellation policy

With 57hours, you benefit from both our own cancellation policy as well as that of the individual guiding service that delivers your adventure. All policies regarding cancellation will be clearly laid out by your guide after booking your adventure, but rest assured that our own cancellation policy will work on top of what is provided by your guide.

For this adventure, 57hours offers a Moderate Cancellation Policy, which states:
If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to thirty (30) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund. For cancellations fourteen (14) to twenty nine (29) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount paid when Booking. For cancellations zero (0) to thirteen (13) days in advance, the Client is not entitled to any refund.

For more information on terms and conditions, please visit our Terms of Service page.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Lake Tahoe, most people fly into Reno-Tahoe International Airport. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service, such as the South Tahoe Airporter. It is a one-hour drive to the Lake Tahoe area.

Prior to departure, each group will meet at the Alpenglow office located in Olympic Valley. Operating in partnership with the Tahoe National Forest and the Truckee Donner Land Trust, our outdoor classroom contains some of the best terrain in the region to begin your avalanche education. Location may change depending on snow conditions. Classroom sessions that once took place at our headquarters in the beautiful Olympic Valley, California will now be held completely online.

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