Nelson | British Columbia

AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course in Nelson

57hours Icon season



57hours Icon nearest-city

Nearest city

Spokane, WA, is 3 hours away

57hours Icon duration


6 days

57hours Icon skill-level

Skill level

Intermediate to advanced

Build on avalanche-control skills for safer backcountry travel

Get ready for six days of avalanche courses in the British Columbia’s Nelson! This AIARE 2 course is designed for skiers, riders and winter alpinists who travel regularly in avalanche terrain. The course will help experienced backcountry users gain new skills necessary to make safer decisions in unexpected and complicated situations. You’ll learn how to lead a small travel group, travel in challenging or complex avalanche terrain, or develop a travel plan without adequate resources. Join three expert instructors and prepare for all possible challenges in the enchanting, yet challenging backcountry!

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AIARE Level 2 Avalanche Course in Nelson

Price on request · 6 days

The AIARE 2 Course builds on the AIARE 1 and gives you the skills to evaluate critical hazard assessment factors. It builds on your experience to use a process to manage the avalanche-terrain uncertainty. Focusing on snowpack, weather, and terrain assessment, this course builds decision-making skills and grooms students for leadership in the backcountry. Take a deep-dive into the AIARE 2 recreational curriculum and spend a week studying and applying AIARE’s risk-management framework in the deep, Kootenay snowpack. Join your guide on this unforgettable six-day adventure and learn all about safe travel through the backcountry!

Trip Highlights

Commit yourself to the AIARE process and learn about gathering field obs, identifying terrain, planning tours, mitigating risk, and making safer decisions in the backcountry. This longer 6-day format course allows time to fully grasp the AIARE 2 curriculum and apply all the skills from the classroom in the field. A 3:1 student-instructor ratio ensures personalized learning, making this the best, most immersive AIARE 2 available! Some of the things you’ll learn about are gathering field obs, identifying terrain, planning tours, mitigating risk, and making safer decisions in the backcountry.

Once you meet with your guides, you will go through the curriculum and they will explain the schedule for the week. In the morning, head out for a day of classes and exercises in the field. You’ll spend your field days in the Kootenays, in the perfect combination between superlight fluffy Rockies Powder and Coastal snow. Wind is the exception rather than the normal conditions. These six days in the field will make sure you are prepared for any challenge in the mighty backcountry!

Meet Your Guides

Rob Coppolillo

Rob Coppolillo
IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide
Rob is a AMGA/IFMGA guide who runs ski and climbing trips all over the world — from the Rockies to the Dolomites. We tour at least once a year with him because he always brings out the best in us wherever we go and whatever the objective. Rob is the owner of Vetta Mountain Guides, based out of Boulder, Colorado.

Tim Brown

Tim Brown
IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guide
In addition to IFMGA certification, Tim Brown is a former avalanche forecaster in Colorado, instructor-trainer for AIARE, and heli guide in the US and Iceland. He is an internationally licensed (IFMGA) American Mountain Guide with over 20 years experience guiding rock, ice and alpine climbs; high altitude expeditions; and ski descents. He is also a fully certified AIARE instructor and Pro2 certified.

Colin Zacharias

IFMGA/ACMG Mountain Guide
Colin is an Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) and IFMGA certified guide, who has been ski guiding for decades. He is a former head guide at CMH, Technical Director for AIARE and the ACMG, and a professional avalanche consultant. He has enjoyed the opportunity to interact with guides and avalanche professionals from a variety of countries outside Canada and the US including NZ, Iceland, Switzerland and Argentina.

Things you need to know

Covid measures in Nelson, British Columbia

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 Nelson, BC, please refer to the Province of British Columbia 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!
rther information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

What’s included?

What you get in this adventure:

  • An experienced, certified AIARE instructor with extensive knowledge of the area
  • AIARE 2 Avalanche Course
  • 6 days in the field

What’s not included:

  • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
  • Trip insurance
  • Lodge or other accommodation
  • Meals and snacks
  • Transportation to/from Nelson and during the course

How fit do I need to be?

In order to enjoy this backcountry adventure, you need to have an excellent level of fitness. You will be on your feet for a full day. While there is terrain for all skill levels, this course is for intermediate to advanced skiers only. You will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on challenging black level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.

What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?

You should have several seasons of touring experience, have completed a level 1 avalanche course, and have strong fitness/movement skills. To receive credit for the course (with AIARE), you will need an AIARE 1 (within the last 5 years) and an AIARE Companion Rescue course prior to enrolling for this AIARE 2. If you’re not concerned about official credit with AIARE, but have equivalent experience of their level 1 and Rescue course, then let’s discuss whether this AIARE 2 will work for you.

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
  • Head lamp with good batteries
  • Sunglasses or ski goggles
  • Gloves and hat
  • Long underwear top (synthetic or wool)
  • Light fleece or wool sweater
  • Lightweight wind jacket (nylon or ‘Schoeller’)
  • Waterproof – breathable shell jacket
  • Warm insulated jacket (down or synthetic)
  • Pair of wool or synthetic socks and liner socks
  • Pair wool or synthetic underwear
  • Long underwear bottoms (synthetic or wool)
  • Multipurpose stretch nylon or ‘Schoeller’ type pants
  • Waterproof breathable shell pants (full zip is best)
  • Handkerchief
  • Down or synthetic camp booties — optional
  • Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
  • Insulated water bottle and 1.5-2L 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
  • Personal medications and toiletries
  • Chargers for electronic devices (normal AC power is available via micro-hydro)

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, touring boots and poles can be rented from ROAM Shop.
  • Splitboards can be rented from ROAM Shop.

Ski rental locations are in Nelson, BC, 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.

What can I expect from skiing with a guide?

A certified ski guide will take all of the guesswork out of your time in the backcountry. From tour planning to route selection, terrain management, avalanche safety, and gear knowledge, your guide’s expertise and backcountry experience will ensure you have an unforgettable ski touring adventure.

It doesn’t matter your skill level, whether you’ve never backcountry skied or you’re seasoned on the slopes, skiing with a guide has its advantages. Your techniques will sharpen, you’ll learn how to navigate terrain safely, make smart decisions, and most of all, you’ll remain safe in unfamiliar terrain.

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 about group sizes and pricing?

For this adventure, the max client to guide ratio is 3:1, with two assistant instructors — both fully certified AIARE instructors and both Pro2 certified. The cost is per person and does not change due to the group size.

Ski touring in Nelson, BC, can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

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 private tours on a case-by-case basis. If you plan to ski with anyone under the age of 18, please contact us prior to booking 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.

As we’ve recently seen, travel plans can be abruptly halted, so it’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance that covers cancelled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans. For peace of mind, we suggest you consider both options of insurance.

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 Expedition Cancellation Policy, which states:
If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to one hundred twenty (120) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund. For cancellations ninety (90) to one hundred nineteen(119) 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 seventy five (75) to eighty nine (89) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of twenty-five percent (25%) of the total amount paid when Booking. After that deadline, Client is not entitled to any refund. Any reimbursable expenses arising out of the Booking incurred by Guide prior to the date of cancellation (including but not limited to plane tickets, car rental payments, and lodging or transportation fees) are non refundable as soon as they are incurred by the Guide.

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

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Nelson, you can drive from Calgary (about six hours) or Vancouver (about eight hours), but most people fly into Spokane International Airport, WA. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service. Drive time is approximately three hours with a border crossing.

You will meet your guides at the staging area at Kootenay Valley Helicopters (KVH 250-505-2150) and from there take a helicopter ride to the Ymir Lodge.

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 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.

This course is operated by

Vetta Mountain Guides

Vetta Mountain Guides logo

Vetta Mountain Guides offers custom days in the mountains, on rock, ice, and snow, led exclusively by guides certified by the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG), or another member organization of the IFMGA/UIAGM. They also offer avalanche education, as well as technical instruction. They are based in Chamonix, France; but we also work in Canada and in the US.

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