AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course in Whitefish

Whitefish | Montana
Trip Highlights

Top three reasons to upgrade your skills in Whitefish

  • Trip Highlight

    Improve your skillset on 3,000 skiable acres of quality light dry powder

  • Trip Highlight

    Amazing views of Flathead Lake make learning avalanche safety a treat

  • Trip Highlight

    Enjoy some breathtaking descents in Whitefish’s winter wonderland

Those prepared to rough out the fog and bitter cold of winter in Whitefish, Montana, can expect to find some of the finest backcountry skiing and boarding in the “last best place on Earth”. Whitefish permeates a rough sort of charm—you don’t go there for five-star luxury ski resorts, you go there for the cheap lodging, the great pancakes, and the miles upon miles of ungroomed powder. However, the Montana backcountry can be treacherous, and the threat of an avalanche always looms over those who choose to trade the resort for the wilderness. And if things go south, you should be ready. Take an AIARE Level 1 Course in Whitefish and master the fundamentals of avalanche safety while blazing your own trail down some crazy slopes.


December through March

Nearest city

Kalispell, MO is 20 minutes away


3 days

Skill level

Beginner to intermediate


Choose how you spend your days

Resort-Based AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course

3 days

Refine your avalanche safety knowledge and become a safer, more competent backcountry adventurer with this AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course. Spend day 1 reviewing the fundamentals of avalanche safety with an experienced instructor, and 2 days putting your education to use on the varied backcountry terrain near the Blacktail Mountain Resort.

Yurt-Based AIARE Avalanche Level 1 Course

3 days

Improve your avalanche safety skills and build up your confidence on the slopes with this 3-day yurt-based avy course. Meet your group at the base area, take a snowcat to your cozy, warm yurt, and spend 3 days in the field learning basic backcountry safety protocols from seasoned and certified instructors.

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Learning outcomes

This comprehensive course was designed for people looking to build a foundation for safe backcountry travel, with a focus on hazard evaluation, decision-making, and companion rescue in avalanche terrain. It includes proper instruction for basic safety and protocols for safe backcountry travel. After a quick introductory class, your days will be spent learning the skills and tools you need to navigate the backcountry and evaluate the snowpack when trudging through avalanche terrain.


Reviews (3)

John H. about Colorado Mountain Guides

JHMG knows their stuff! My instructors provided a wealth of knowledge for us to learn from and an awesome attitude that kept everyone stoked!

Clinton C. about Colorado Mountain Guides

Very professional! Excellent instructors with a wealth of knowledge and most importantly, they know how to facilitate growth of one’s mountain sense.

Ben W. about Colorado Mountain Guides

Knowledgeable instructors and in a setting that inspires. I learned a lot during my course and look forward to putting my new knowledge to use exploring on snow in the Tetons and beyond.

Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in Whitefish, Montana

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 traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Whitefish, Montana, please refer to the Montana Governor’s Coronavirus Task Force website.

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’s included?

What you get in this adventure: 

    • Experienced, certified guides with extensive knowledge of the area
    • Three days of avalanche education and field practice
    • Snowcat transportation from the Great Northern Powder Guides base area to your yurt and back (for the Yurt-Based Tour)
    • Accommodations (for the Yurt-Based Tour)
    • Dinner, breakfast, and hot drinks (for the Yurt-Based Tour)

What’s not included:

    • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
    • Transportation to the Blacktail Mountain Resort (for the Resort-Based Tour)
    • Transportation to the Great Northern Powder Guides base area (for the Yurt-Based Tour)
    • Accommodations (for the Resort-Based Tour)
    • Lunch and snacks (for the Yurt-Based Tour)
    • All meals and snacks (for the Resort-Based Tour)

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?

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

    • Alpine touring, telemark, or snowboarding boots (can be rented)
    • Skis or splitboard with compatible binding for boots (can be rented)
    • Climbing skins (can be rented)
    • Ski poles (can be rented)
    • Basic avalanche safety gear (can be rented)
      • Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
      • Lightweight snow shovel
      • Avalanche probe

For personal items, we recommend bringing:

    • Helmet – optional
    • Long sleeve synthetic — medium to expedition weight long underwear
    • Softshell or fleece jacket
    • Shell jacket with a hood
    • Puffy jacket with a hood
    • Synthetic or wool long underwear bottoms
    • Shell pants — full side zips and built-in gaiters
    • Socks — synthetic or wool, sized for your boots and blister protection
    • Liners — optional, but recommended
    • Gloves – 3 pairs: 1 light, 1 medium, 1 heavy pair
    • Medium weight ski hat
    • Baseball hat or visor for sun
    • Buff or a neck gaiter
    • Backpack (30-40 liter ski pack)
    • Thermos or insulated water bottle
    • Food you can eat-on-the-go
    • Sunglasses
    • Ski goggles
    • Extra prescription glasses/contact lenses
    • Sunscreen
    • Lip balm
    • Headlamp and extra batteries
    • Laptop computer
    • 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 can be rented from your guide
    • Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots, and poles can be rented from your guide
    • Splitboards can be rented from your guide

Ski rental locations are in Whitefish and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes and prices:

    • These courses are not private. For the group courses, the usual guest-to-guide ratio is 6:1. 
    • Cost is per person and it doesn’t decrease as the group grows.

Avalanche safety courses in Whitefish 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.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to these tours in the Whitefish area, most people fly into Glacier Park International Airport 15 minutes away from Whitefish, MT. From there, you should rent a car, or take a taxi or shuttle to Whitefish.

For the Resort-Based Tour, you should then rent a car or take a taxi to Lakeside, MT. You will meet your guides at the Blacktail Mountain Resort 14 miles (22 km) west of Lakeside at noon of day 1. The following days’ classes will be held there as well, from 9am – 5pm.

For the Yurt-Based Tour, you will meet your guides at the Great Northern Powder Guides base area 23 miles (37 km) north from Whitefish at 8 am of day 1. From there, your guides will arrange snowcat transportation to your yurt.

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Outdoor adventuring makes us fall in love with our planet and people, it gets our brains rewired differently and forces us to rethink our life priorities.

For years, we’ve dreamt of building a company that can make an impact on things that we deeply care about. Here are some initiatives we are grateful to be contributing to.

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