Recreational Level 1 Avalanche Course

Our Recreational Level 1 Avalanche course will teach you the fundamentals of making sound decisions while traveling in avalanche terrain. The course effectively combines a blend of online learning and field work to provide a comprehensive overview of avalanche hazard recognition and evaluation. For the 2020-21 season, all course work will be completed remotely on your own time, and lessons will be available online for you to complete in advance of your backcountry session with an avalanche professional and guide. This course is a nationally recognized Avalanche Level 1 Course, and serves as a great foundation to build upon as you enter the world of backcountry recreation.

For the upcoming season, our Recreational Level 1 will blend online learning with two instructional field days.

There will be approximately 6 hours of online pre-course learning modules and reading, as well as a 90-minute Zoom meeting, followed by two days of instruction in the backcountry. 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. 

Book Your Private Avy-1 Join a Scheduled Course

As a SAS Course Provider Mountain Trip utilizes an internationally vetted curriculum and state of the art knowledge from The course meets the guidelines set forth by the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR) and exceeds learning outcomes  as defined by the American Avalanche Association.

This course 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 an Avalanche Rescue Course, but there are no prerequisites for this course.  Aspiring professionals will need to take this Level 1 and an Avalanche Rescue Course as a prerequisite for the Pro 1 course.

For the Winter 2020-2021, we are offering set dates for this course (listed in the sidebar) as well as on a private basis for just you and your crew.

We know that courses can be cost prohibitive, especially for those living in mountain towns with a high cost of living. Check out the PI Avalanche Fund, which offers scholarships to individuals looking to further their avalanche education, and memorializes our good friend and former guide, Peter Inglis.

Please contact the Mountain Trip office with any additional questions.

There are approximately 6 hours of online learning modules and reading that must be completed in advance of two instructional field days, as well as a mandatory 90-minute Zoom meeting to be scheduled with your instructor. 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 their 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, weather and terrain options
  • Make and record field observations

Course Curriculum:

  • Tour Preparation
  • Analyzing avalanche forecasts
  • Identifying avalanche terrain
  • Recognizing hazardous conditions
  • Snowpack Metamorpism
  • Route Finding and Travel Techniques
  • Using Observations and Tests
  • Human Factors
  • Educated Decision-Making
  • Mountain Weather
  • Safe Travel Protocols
  • Introduction to Snow Pits
  • Group Management
  • Snow layer analysis
  • Risk evaluation


  • Online Learning Course Material
  • Level 1 Avalanche Course Manual
  • Waterproof Field Book
  • Level 1 certificate upon successful completion of the course


  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Avalanche and Ski Equipment (some equipment is available for rent, but we strongly recommend you use your own gear)

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