Avalanche Programs in Telluride

Mountain Trip hosts a variety of avalanche courses in the San Juan Mountains in Southwest Colorado, in partnership with the Silverton Avalanche School. This upcoming winter, we have AIARE Recreational Level One, Avalanche Rescue courses and Professional Level One Avalanche courses planned. Our staff has experience teaching and guiding all over the world in different snowpacks and mountain ranges. The San Juan Mountains are where we call home and choose to recreate, teach and guide. We bring this expertise and local knowledge to all of our avalanche courses here in Telluride, Colorado.

AIARE Recreational Level 1 Avalanche Course

Our AIARE Recreational Level 1 course will teach you the fundamentals of making sound decisions while traveling in avalanche terrain. The 3-day course effectively combines classroom time and field sessions to provide a comprehensive overview of avalanche hazard recognition and evaluation.


This course is a nationally recognized Avalanche Level 1 Course.

This intensive, hands-on training will cover trip planning and preparation, interpretation of the avalanche bulletin, observational techniques for snowpack, weather and avalanches, terrain analysis, safe travel techniques, and decision-making fundamentals. Students will also learn the elements of companion avalanche rescue and practice using realistic scenarios.  It is geared toward skiers, boarders, and other outdoor enthusiasts who want to build winter backcountry skills. 

Level 1 is for anyone who wants to recreate in or near avalanche terrain, on skis, splitboard, snowmobile or snowshoes. Participants may have attended some awareness classes or workshops or completed the Avalanche Rescue course, but none are a prerequisite for this course.  Aspiring professionals will need to take this Level 1 and Avalanche Rescue as a prerequisite for the Pro 1 course.

Please contact the Mountain Trip office with any additional questions.

Morning sessions introduce avalanche concepts to students. Afternoon field sessions in backcountry terrain provide hands-on experience and ensure quality field time with our top-notch staff. Each day students travel into backcountry ski terrain in small groups with instructors.

These experiential sessions examine topics discussed in the classroom. All students will be able to practice route finding and terrain analysis, dig snowpits, and conduct stability tests. Unlike many avalanche courses, Silverton Avalanche School students gain practical training in the backcountry rather than a ski area. The redesigned Recreational Level 1 will include more field on route planning, terrain management, and hazard evaluation time, as 4-6 hours of field time in the past were needed to cover companion rescue.

Students receive valuable input, instant feedback, and vital insight from our instructors who are responsible for mitigating avalanche hazard in Class A avalanche terrain filled with one of the most dangerous snowpacks on earth, where avalanche hazard assessment and reduction is an everyday job. Instructors will help students acquire and enhance the critical skills, perceptual cues, and knowledge needed to make better decisions with greater accuracy and success.

Level 1 is for anyone 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 none are a prerequisite for this course.  Aspiring professionals will need to take this Level 1 and Avalanche Rescue as a prerequisite for the Pro 1 course.

Learning Outcomes

  • Improved Avalanche Judgement and Decision-making Skills
  • Expanded Situational Awareness and Perceptual Capacities
  • Human influence in group dynamics
  • Applying the Current Avalanche Bulletin to Tour Planning
  • Develop a trip plan based on snowpack and weather
  • Make and record field observations


  • These Telluride-based courses include three nights of hut style lodging at the Matterhorn Cabin. The cabin is located just north of Lizard Head Pass where we will conduct the majority of our field sessions.
  • Level 1 Avalanche Course Manual
  • AIARE Waterproof Field Book
  • AIARE Level 1 certificate upon successful completion of the course


  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Avalanche and Ski Equipment (some equipment is available for rent)


Avalanche Rescue Courses

We will be hosting Avalanche Rescue courses in Telluride in conjunction with Silverton Avalanche School.

A full-day, scenario-based seminar, the Avalanche Rescue course primarily focuses on what to do in the direct aftermath of an avalanche. The course is designed to be taken every couple of years to refresh various skills essential to avalanche partner rescue, including beacon searches, probing technique, efficient recovery post-burial and contacting rescue assistance.

This course does not cover various snow pit stability tests, snow crystal analysis, recognition of hazardous avalanche terrain, ect. and is not a substitute for a Level One course. It does not have any pre-requisites, but is required for both Pro Level 1 and Recreational Level 2 courses.

*Please book these courses online through Silverton Avalanche School. Contact the Mountain Trip office with any additional questions.

New participants will learn the basics of companion rescue, while returning participants will expand their skill set with advanced topics and realistic scenario practice to help improve their skills after the course. This course meets guidelines set by the American Avalanche Association and also meets guidelines set by the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR).  This course expands beyond what students learn in a Level 1 to more complex rescue scenarios. Students receive a certification card at the end of the course.

This course is recommended for novice and experienced recreational backcountry travelers, and aspiring snow professionals alike. Locals to the Telluride area are eligible for scholarships through the Telluride Mountain Club in collaboration with the Peter Inglis Avalanche Education Fund.

Participants must bring appropriate gear for snow travel (skis or splitboard with skins or snowshoes), avalanche equipment (beacon, shovel, probe) and appropriate outerwear for a day in the mountains. The course will run storm or shine, so please come prepared for the elements. All students are expected to bring, and be familiar with using, a three-antennae avalanche transceiver with a flagging function.

The course runs one day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Review personal protective and avalanche rescue equipment
  • Identify and familiarize students with winter personal protective, avalanche rescue, and self-evacuation equipment and their proper use
  • Demonstrate and practice routines to check gear’s function
  • Demonstrate avalanche rescue
  • Introduce Avalanche Rescue Quick Reference tool and apply it to a scenario
  • Breakdown and practice individuals skills of avalanche rescue: assessing the scene and taking leadership, using a transceiver, using a probe, and shoveling
  • Single burial scenarios
  • Learn to set up effective scenarios for practice
  • Integrate individual skills into a rescue scenario

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe what to do if they or a member of their party is caught in an avalanche
  • Identify and be able to use gear necessary for avalanche rescue.
  • Set up a realistic scenario in order to practice an avalanche rescue response.
  • Improve their response skills and times during and after the course with feedback from instructors and peers.
  • Develop a plan for continued practice

Mountain Trip operates under a special use permit in the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests. We provide services and employment opportunities regardless of an individual’s ethnic or cultural heritage, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or physical handicap.

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