Top reasons to upgrade your skills in RMNP
Upgrade your skills in over 265,000 acres of scenic skiable backcountry
Rise above Hidden Valley’s treeline for advanced backcountry education
Experience a usually crowded destination in the quieter winter months
Nested at the heart of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the town of Estes Park is one of the most popular locations in Colorado for folks looking to try out some legendary slopes. However, the slyest backcountry skiers never go there in the summer months. They wait for the winter, when they get to have the range’s deep, steep and untracked lines all to themselves. Seasoned and confident couloir hunters head to Dragon Tail to face its pucker-worthy steepness, while those looking for a more tranquil run choose the Hidden Valley, an abandoned ski park with mellow skinning and safe conditions. Estes Park’s abundance of complex terrain and its generally excellent snowfall conditions make it the perfect place to continue your avalanche safety education and up your backcountry game with an AIARE Level 2 avalanche safety course.
December through March
Denver, CO is two hours away
Intermediate to advanced
Book this adventure
AIARE Level 2 Course in the Rocky Mountains
Whether you’re a skier, rider, or winter alpinist who regularly travels in avalanche terrain, this three-day avalanche safety course is just what you need. The course is designed to help experienced backcountry adventurers gain the skills necessary to make decisions in complicated situations, such as leading a small travel group, traveling in challenging avalanche terrain or developing a travel plan without adequate resources. The course is also ideal for backcountry recreationalists or professionals looking to gain some experience before taking a Pro 1 course.
Join a zoom call with your guide. After a quick welcome, introduction, and L1 review, learn about mountain weather, the formation of new snow, layered snowpack, and trip planning using local avalanche bulletins. You will also have a beacon function, range check, and snow profile demo, as well as a PM meeting demo.
Learn about interpreting weather data, snow surface conditions, and snow profiles. Your guide will teach you about risk management for small groups, avalanche release, and snowpits. After a departure check, take part in a field session and learn about snow profiles and tests.
The entirety of day 3 will be spent on a ski tour in the field. After a beacon range check, learn about group management, communication, and human factors. Your guides will also explain terrain selection, travel techniques, gathering field obs, analyzing snow instability, and avalanche hazard. The final debrief will include an instability factor analysis and a review of field obs and human factors, as well as an examination of the times you were most at risk.
Meet your guide
The 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!
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.
Very professional! Excellent instructors with a wealth of knowledge and most importantly, they know how to facilitate growth of one’s mountain sense.
Things to know
Covid measures in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
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, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, please refer to the state of Colorado’s official COVID-19 update 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 you get in this adventure:
- An experienced, certified guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- A virtual check-in and introduction into the course
- A full 2 days in the field
What’s not included:
- Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
- Food and snacks
- A $35 vehicle fee at the park entrance
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.
Participants must have the ability to travel in avalanche terrain. An AIARE 1 Course (strongly recommended) or equivalent Level 1 training is required. A winter of practical experience after the Level 1 course is highly recommended before taking the AIARE 2 course. AIARE or AAA-approved one-day Avalanche Rescue Course.
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:
- 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)
- Water bottle or hydration bladder (2L capacity)
- Food you can eat-on-the-go
- Ski goggles
- Extra prescription glasses/contact lenses
- 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 Estes Park 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:
- This course is not private. 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 Rocky Mountain National Park 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 Estes Park in the Rocky Mountains, most people fly into Denver International Airport. Estes Park is 2 hours away from the airport, and you can rent a car, take a taxi or ride a shuttle there.
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 Estes Park 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.