Wasatch Mountains | Utah

AAI Hybrid Avalanche Level 1 Course in the Wasatch Mountains

57hours Icon season


December to May

57hours Icon nearest-city

Nearest city

Salt Lake City is 30 minutes away from Cottonwood Canyons

57hours Icon duration


2 days

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Skill level


Learn avalanche response training with this hybrid Level 1 avy course

Spend enough time in the backcountry and chances are you will eventually encounter an avalanche. When that occurs, proper avalanche response training is critical to safety. Get prepared with this comprehensive Hybrid Level 1 Avalanche Course that combines both theory and practical knowledge.

Led by expert instructors from Wasatch Mountain Guides, you’ll complete the online learning at your own pace and then put your knowledge to the test with two hands-on field days in the Wasatch backcountry. This course is ideal for anyone looking to develop essential backcountry safety skills and for those who may have already taken a Level 1 avy course, but would like a refresher on existing skills. This course is developed to the high standards of the American Alpine Institute (AAI), delivered by trusted, certified instructors, and you’ll also get to spend two days skiing and practicing skills in beautiful Wasatch terrain.

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AAI Hybrid Avalanche Level 1 Course in the Wasatch Mountains

From $1025 · 2 days

Alpine environments can be hazardous for those unprepared — it’s necessary for any backcountry skier or mountaineer to be aware of the dangers and know how to prepare for all possible situations. This Hybrid Level 1 Course will give you those skills. The online course was developed with the American Alpine Institute, which you work through at your own pace, before spending two private backcountry field days in the Cottonwood Canyons with experienced, certified guides from Wasatch Mountain Guides. Learn the basics about avalanche safety, gear and rescue, and prepare yourself for exciting adventures ahead!

Course Highlights

This Hybrid Level 1 Avalanche Course is split into two components: the self-paced online learning component and the two-day field component. Once you register and pay, your online coursework can begin. Upon completion of the online component, you will then spend two-days in the Wasatch backcountry with your instructors.

This digital course was developed with the American Avalanche Institute (AAI) and is framed around the Backcountry Avalanche Checklist. This Checklist is a systemic and proven approach to comprehensive decision-making in a complex backcountry environment. You work at your own pace and the Wasatch Mountain Guides team will be available to respond to questions via email at all times.

The expansive online course includes:

    • Instructional videos
    • Extensive workbook with note outlines
    • In-Depth Online Study Guide
    • Comprehensive Quizzes

For the duration of the 2021 winter season, participants have access to all course materials. So you can review the content even after you complete the course.

Along with the online learning component, you will also get two private group days of practice in the field. The evening before your first outing, you will meet your guide via video conference call to answer any questions and ensure you are packed and ready. Field days will be two consecutive eight-hour days based in Big or Little Cottonwood Canyon. Together with your guide, you’ll cover an exhaustive set of avalanche preparedness skills.

Field days include:

    • Terrain assessment
    • Safe travel
    • Snowpack and weather
    • Tour planning
    • Field ops
    • Stability test use and interpretation
    • Rescue (beacon search, probing techniques, strategic shoveling and more)

For anyone planning to adventure into the backcountry in the winter, this course is essential learning. Rest assured, you will be learning from the absolute best guides in the field, who live and adventure in the Wasatch Mountains — one of the premiere backcountry skiing and mountaineering destinations in the world.

Things you need to know

Covid measures in Wasatch Mountains

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 the Wasatch Mountains, please refer to the State of Utah official 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!

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.

Why should I take an avalanche course?

Safety should always be your number one priority in the backcountry. For anyone looking to adventure in the backcountry during winter months, an avalanche safety and rescue course is essential learning. Alpine environments are inherently hazardous and proper response training is critical to safety. This Level 1 course will give you important insights and practical skills that will help you mitigate risk and control your safety in avalanche terrain.

What can I expect from an avalanche course?

In this Hybrid Level 1 Course, you can expect to finish the course with the skills and knowledge to remain safer in the backcountry. Everyone who signs up for the course will get a self-paced online learning course developed with the American Alpine Institute (AAI), a live virtual seminar with expert WMG Instructors and two in-depth field days in the backcountry. Your techniques will sharpen, you’ll learn how to navigate terrain safely, make smart decisions, and most of all, you’ll remain safer in unfamiliar terrain.

What’s included?

What you get in this adventure:

    • Expansive self-paced online learning course developed with the American Alpine Institute
    • Live virtual seminar with expert Wasatch Mountain Guides instructors
    • Two private in-depth field days in the backcountry

What’s not included:

    • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
    • Trip insurance
    • Food and snacks
    • Transportation

How fit do I need to be?

In order to get the most out of this course, you need to have a moderate level of fitness. For the two field-days, you will be in the backcountry for eight hours each day practicing skills and safety rescue. All participants should feel comfortable on blue level resort runs, be able to manage controlled descents, and able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.

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
  • Headlamp
  • Sunglasses
  • Ski goggles
  • Warm hat
  • Sun hat
  • Buff
  • Lightweight gloves (for uphill)
  • Midweight gloves
  • Heavyweight gloves (for downhill)
  • Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
  • Lightweight base layer top
  • Lightweight fleece jacket
  • Softshell jacket with hood
  • Puffy jacket with hood
  • Lightweight baselayer
  • Bottom softshell pants
  • Ski straps (rubber voile style)
  • Ski crampons (sized to fit your ski width and binding type)
  • Water bottle and 1L of water
  • Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
  • Food you can eat on-the-go
  • First-aid kit
  • Blister kit
  • Sunscreen and lip balm (SPF 50+)
  • Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
  • 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 may be rented from your guide if needed
    • Alpine touring or telemark skis and poles may be rented from Voile Retail Store
    • Splitboards can be rented from Voile Retail Store
    • Touring boots and helmets can be rented from Christy Sports

Ski rental locations are in Salt Lake City 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’s the itinerary?

You will complete the online course component at your own pace. Once that is complete, the field days will be two consecutive eight-hour days based in Big or Little Cottonwood Canyon. You’ll cover an exhaustive set of avalanche preparedness skills, including terrain assessment, safe travel, snowpack and weather, tour planning, field ops, stability test use and rescue (beacon search, probing techniques, strategic shoveling, and more).

Depending on your objectives, full days may start earlier and end later, but in general, your day will look like this:

    • 8:30 am: Meet your guide at the guide’s recommended location
    • 9:00 am: Head to the location of your course
    • 9:30 am – 5:00 pm: Gear up and spend the day skiing, learning about safety, planning and rescue, stopping for lunch and breaks as needed
    • 5:00 pm: Back to the cars for debriefing and high fives

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 group sizes and pricing?

For the avalanche training in the field, the max client to guide ratio is 4:1.

The cost per person decreases as the group grows, so it’s the perfect opportunity to learn about avalanche safety with your ski touring friends.

Avalanche Courses in Wasatch Mountains can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

What about bad weather?

Backcountry field days are scheduled to fit with ideal learning conditions. When the weather does not cooperate, your guide will know the correct course of action to take. Whether that’s shifting to a more favorable location or postponing until conditions approve, your guide will know just what to do. In the event of predictably bad weather, you will be contacted prior to the trip to discuss suitable alternatives.

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.

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 Flexible Cancellation Policy, which states:
If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to fourteen (14) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund. For cancellations seven (7) to thirteen (13) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a credit with that Guide for another identical or substantially similar Booking, or a full refund, minus a One Hundred-Fifty Dollar ($150) reservation fee. For cancellations anytime less than 7 days in advance, the Client is not entitled to any refund.

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

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Cottonwood Canyons in the Wasatch Mountains, most people fly into Salt Lake City International Airport. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle to the Canyons. SLC is less than 30 minutes away from the Big and Little Cottonwood Park and Ride Lots. Utah Transit Authority (UTA) offers Ski Bus with trips going up and down Little Cottonwood Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon each day.

Once you and your guide agree on the details of your backcountry field-days, your guide will suggest the best place to meet. The usual meeting points are Big or Little Cottonwood Park and Ride Lot, Alta or Brighton depending on the best conditions for learning. From there, you’ll head to your course.

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