Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain

The AIARE 1 is a three-day / 24-hour introduction to avalanche hazard management.

Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a backcountry trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn rescue techniques required to find and extricate a buried person.

Scroll Down to Book Online


We are running in-person avalanche courses this Winter.


2 nights at The Bunkhouse at Northeast Mountaineering for only $60

*As space permits. Requires additional online reservation at The Bunkhouse.


Length: 3 Days [24 Hours]
Guide-to-Client: 2:12
Price: $550 per person
Type: Educational
We also run courses in the Adirondacks. Click HERE for more info.

2024-2025 DATES

Dec 17-19
Dec 21-23
Dec 27-29
Jan 4-6
Jan 7-9
Jan 11-13
Jan 14-16
Jan 18-20
Jan 24-26
Feb 1-3
Feb 4-6
Feb 7-9
Feb 15-17
Mar 1-3
Mar 7-9
Mar 15-17
Mar 18-20
Mar 21-23


For this course, you will need an Avalanche Beacon, Probe and Shovel. These items may be rented for $50.

Most of the required equipment is available for rent from us at mtnGEAR. AIARE Participants will receive an exclusive rental discount of 50% beacon, probe and shovel and an additional 20% discount on all rental equipment and clothing.


The AIARE 1 is for anyone, regardless of method of travel, who wants to recreate in or near avalanche terrain. Participants may have attended some awareness classes or workshops or completed the Avalanche Rescue course, but neither are a prerequisite for this course. Aspiring professionals will need to take the AIARE 1 and Avalanche Rescue as a prerequisite for the AIARE II or Pro 1 course.

Learning Outcomes

Student Learning Outcomes

At the end of the AIARE 1 course the student should be able to:

  • Plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain.
  • Recognize avalanche terrain.
  • Describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain.
  • Learn and apply effective companion rescue.

Instructional sessions (24 hours including both class and field instruction).

  1. Introduction to the Avalanche Phenomena
    • Types and characteristics of avalanches
    • Avalanche motion
    • Size classification
    • The mountain snowpack: an introduction to metamorphism and layering
  2. Observations and Information Gathering
    • Field observation techniques
    • Snowpack tests: rutschblock, compression test
    • Avalanche danger factors or “Red Flags”
    • Observation checklist
    • Avalanche danger scale
  3. Trip Planning and Preparation
    • Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment, and selection
    • Route finding and travel techniques
    • Decision making and Human Factors
  4. Companion Rescue and Equipment

Course Itinerary


For this course we will be accessing the backcountry. If you own a touring setup or split board you are welcome to skin with the instructor and consequently ski or ride out at the end of the day. If you ski but do not own an Alpine Touring set up, you can rent from Ski The Whites or Gorham Bike and Ski. If you do not ski or ride, please plan to snowshoe - which can be rented from mtnGEAR.


8:00: Meet at Classroom (Outlined in your confirmation email)

8:00-9:00: Introductions, Ice Breaker, Agenda, Course Goals, Logistics

9:00-10:00: Decision Making, Case Study

10:00-10:50: Avalanche Types & Character

10 minute break

11:00-12:00: Avalanche Terrain

12:00-12:45: Lunch Break

12:45-1:30: Companion Rescue, Indoor

1:30-4:30: Field Session, Trailhead Function Checks, Companion Rescue

4:30-5:00: Logistics for Day 2, Homework Assignments



8:00-8:30: Review of Day 1 Homework

8:30-9:30: Formation of Layers in the Mountain Snowpack

9:30-10:30: Field Observation Techniques and Recording

10 minute break

10:40-11:5:0 Planning and Prep (demo Trip Plan, Communication Checklist)

12:30-1:00: Travel Wisely

1:00-4:30: Field Session (location TBD), Range Checks, Observational Outing

4:30-5:00: Review Obs, Logistics for Day 3, map preview, homework assignments



8:00-4:00: Meet at the classroom, Morning Trip Planning Session, Tour

4:00-5:00: Review the tour, debrief the course, course close

 Book Online Now


Searching Availability...


NEMs Adventure itineraries are subject to change or be adjusted based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, group dynamics and many other factors. NEM has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including the discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program. We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, an NEM credit for the full value is given; however, NEM cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations). NEM reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip at any time if NEM determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program. This includes being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.


Northeast Mountaineering cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit or complete the objective you have signed up for. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities or the abilities of others may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party will have to turn around without reaching the summit. Your program fee entitles you to one mountain experience on your specified dates.


Most of our programs do not have a minimum enrollment. If you are the only one registered, it will likely become a private outing. For our Waterfall Rappelling adventure, we must have at least 50% enrollment (3 people) to run the adventure. In the event of low-enrollment, we will reschedule your adventure to another date. If another date cannot be accommodated, you will receive an NEM credit.


Safety is NEM’s number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in the mountains but they cannot eliminate them. NEM guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that maximize your experience without compromising the necessary margin of safety. Please clearly understand that mountaineering and all other mountain adventures are inherently hazardous sports. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of these sports, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in these activities.


Payment in full is due at the time of booking. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or check.


A non-refundable deposit of $200 per person secures your reservation but may vary - please check your specific adventure. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or check. Final payment is due 1 month [30 days] before departure. For your convenience, we can work out a monthly payment plan.


A non-refundable deposit of $200 per person secures your reservation but may vary - please check your specific adventure. Payments may be made via MasterCard, Visa, American Express, or check. Final payment is due 1 month [30 days] before departure. For your convenience, we can work out a monthly payment plan.


Up to 30 days before your adventure: Full Refund will be issued 29 days - 72 hours before your adventure: Full Refund in the form of NEM credit Within 72 hours of your adventure: No refund will be issued* In the event that you have a positive COVID-19 test and need to cancel within 72 hours, you will be issued an NEM credit for your adventure.


Up to 90 days before your adventure: Full Refund will be issued 89 days - 30 days before your adventure: Participant will be responsible for paying 50% of the total balance. If the balance is paid in full, participant will receive a 50% refund in the form of NEM credit. Within 30 days of your adventure: No refund will be issued and participant will be responsible for paying the full balance.* *Travel Insurance is highly recommended to protect your investment. If NEM cancels your adventure due to weather or another unforeseen reason, you will receive an NEM credit.


Date changes are subject to availability. Date changes may be requested at anytime up to 7 days prior to your adventure without incurring a date change fee. Date changes may be requested between 7 and 3 days prior to your departure date for a $25 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed within 72 hours before your adventure.


In the event your guide or a fellow NEM guide or staff has reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 or they are otherwise feeling unwell they will attempt to get a COVID test in time for your adventure or course. In the event of a positive test or the absence of results,  your course or adventure will be rescheduled or you can opt for an NEM credit to use at your discretion. Refunds for travel, lodging or other costs associated with your adventure will not be refunded or reimbursed.