Top three reasons to upgrade your skills in Aspen
Learn about avalanche awareness just minutes away from the legendary ski resort
Experience the heart-pumping steep descents of the Aspen Highlands
Ride numerous five-star routes appropriate for both beginners and experts
While popular culture often just lumps them together, Aspen is really four areas rolled into one resort. Snowmass is famous for its crazy variety of steeps, cliffs, couloirs, and backcountry. The Aspen Highlands can essentially be described as just one long ridge, with thrilling, steep, and often bumpy descents on either side. And while Aspen Mountain provides some of the best advanced and expert trails in North America and some of the best bump skiing anywhere, Buttermilk is a safe haven for novices and intermediates looking to get into snow sports. This diversity in terrain type and difficulty makes Aspen one of the perfect settings for your AIARE avalanche education. With such a massive range of learning environments, there’s no doubt that you’ll learn to handle anything that the mountain can throw at you. Book a trip to Aspen, and become a safer and more confident backcountry adventurer. Find out more about managing backcountry risk and avalanche awareness from an AMGA/IFMGA guide Rob Coppolillo.
December through April
Denver, CO, is 3.5 hours away from Aspen
Beginner to advanced
Book this adventure
AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course in Aspen
This AIARE Level 1 course will lay down the foundations of safe backcountry travel for you. This comprehensive course will teach you the fundamentals of recognizing and evaluating demanding weather conditions, decision-making on risky terrain, and companion rescue. With detailed knowledge of the Colorado area and years of experience skiing the backcountry, your guide will provide you with customized instructions and help you achieve your learning goals!
Given the current situation, the format of this course might look a little different this winter. Coursework will be a mix of Zoom sessions & self-paced learning/reading via Google Classroom. During this session, you will brush up on your theory and familiarize yourself with the goals of the course.
Get acquainted with the group and familiarize yourself with avy gear (beacons, probes, airbags, etc.). Go out with your guide and group and learn about:
- Types of avalanches
- Characteristics of avalanches
- How avalanches form and release
- Trip planning and preparation
- Rescue protocols and procedures
- How to recognize and evaluate hazardous conditions
- How to make an educated decision on a risky terrain
- Companion rescue on avalanche terrain
- How to navigate winter mountain route selection
- How to evaluate and understand snowpack
Meet your guide
IFMGA/AMGA Certified Guides
I’ve been doing fun outdoor activities with the Aspen Ex team for 10 years. The new owners, Amos and Britt, are doing some new awesome things. My adventures with Aspen Ex include summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, sailing to and skiing fjords in Iceland, backcountry ski days in Aspen and Telluride, and snorkel skiing in Japan to name a few. I’ve also taken Avalanche 1 and 2 level classes with Aspen Ex. Definitely looking forward to more good times.
Things to know
Covid measures in Aspen, CO
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 Aspen, please refer to the Colorado State and City of Aspen 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 (overall 16 hours)
- 8 hours of online classes
- Use of avalanche beacon, shovel, probe & ski pack
- AIARE dues ($15), AIARE manual and field book ($29.95)
- 3% USFS land use surcharge
What’s not included:
- Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
- Trip insurance
- Transport to and from Aspen and the meeting point
- Single-ride lift tickets ($30)
- Meals and snacks
How fit do I need to be?
In order to get the most of this adventure, you need to have a moderate level of fitness. You will be on your feet for a full day. You will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on challenging blue or black level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.
You don’t need to be an advanced skier or boarder, but you do need to be able to ascend moderate slopes using skins. All participants should be comfortable traveling in snow while carrying touring gear. There are no other prerequisites.
What equipment do I need to bring?
Avalanche safety 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 (included in the course cost):
- Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
- Lightweight snow shovel
- Avalanche probe
For personal items, we recommend bringing:
- 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
- Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
- Camera — optional
Can I rent equipment?
Your guide will provide you with a daypack with a probe, shovel and avalanche beacon if you don’t have your own avy gear. If you need alpine touring ski equipment (AT skis, skins, boots) we can arrange to set you up at the guide’s shop the night before your course between 3:00-5:00 pm.
Ski rental locations are in Aspen. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.
Group sizes and age requirements
Group sizes and pricing:
- For the group course, the usual guest-to-guide ratio is 6:1.
- Cost is per person and it doesn’t decrease as the group grows.
Ski touring in Aspen can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.
Min. age requirements:
- If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
- Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis. If your group has skiers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Getting there and meeting location
To get to Aspen, most people fly into Denver International Airport or Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. From Denver, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service, like Colorado Mountain Express. It is a 3.5 hour drive to the Aspen area. Flying into Aspen/Pitkin County Airport is a bit more expensive, but far more convenient as it is in the Aspen area. Other possible options include Eagle County Airport and Grand Junction Regional Airport.
Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop at Aspen Highlands or a predetermined location. From there, you’ll head to your tour. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ski ability of the group.