Learn crucial avalanche skills while enjoying backcountry solitude in this backcountry yurt-based AIARE level one avalanche course. Three full days in the backcountry and a total of 24 hours of instruction are included. The large heated yurt provides our lodging as well as our classroom for the indoor portions of the course. In addtion to comfortable bunk lodging, we also provide a yummy breakfast and dinner.

You can expect to learn how to properly trip plan for your winter backcountry outing, gain an understanding of decision making while in the field and the rescue techniques required to find and dig up a buried person.

Students are given a final debrief with the opportunity to give instructor feedback and the knowledge that no course can guarantee safety in avalanche terrain either during or after the course. The AIARE level one is a stand-alone course and also the first step before moving on to AIARE level two.

You will learn about:


  • Types & characteristics of avalanches
  • Avalanche motion
  • Size classification
  • The mountain snowpack

Observations and Information Gathering

  • Field observation techniques
  • Snowpack Tests: rutschblock, compression test
  • Avi danger factors
  • Observation checklist
  • Avalanche danger scale

Trip Planning and Preparation

  • Avalanche terrain recognition, assesment and selection
  • Route finding and travel techniques
  • Decision making and Human factors

Companion Rescue and Equipment

The yurt is location in the Virginia Lakes backcountry between the Eastern Sierra town of Lee Vining and Bridgeport, CA. Snowcat transportation is provided to the yurt and the rest of the course is on skis, snowshoes or splitboard. Backcountry ski rentals are available



You must be able to travel in avalanche terrain on skis, snowshoes or splitboard. Good physical condition is required and the ability to travel 3 miles on flat terrain on the last day.

2017 DATES

January 6-8 (FULL)
January 20-22 (FULL)
March 7-9



COST: $625


  • Avalanche safety equipment including shovel and avalanche transceiver.
  • Course manual & AIARE fieldbook
  • Professional instruction from an AIARE course leader
  • Lodging in the yurt (sleeping bag requried, rentals available)
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner while at the yurt
  • Snow cat transport to and from the yurt
The yurt and snowcat transport is owned and operated by High Sierra Snowcat