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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!

  • Excellent terrain variety provides great avalanche simulation opportunities

  • The area is known for world-class backcountry terrain, bluebird days, and powder stashes

  • Perhaps the most famous ski location in California and an unforgettable bucket-list destination


Adapted for the 2021/22 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.

  • 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.

    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.

  • 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

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Things to know

  • 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!

  • 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
  • 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.

  • 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
  • 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.

  • Group sizes and prices:

    • For this group 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.

    Min. age requirements:

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • Cancel within 48 hours of booking your trip for free, no questions asked. If you need to change your plans up to 31 days ahead of your scheduled adventure, we offer a full refund on most trips. Within 31 days we offer free date changes or the option to convert your booking to credit to use on any 57hours adventure at a later date.

Have more questions? Read our FAQ,
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