Level One

Level One Backcountry Avalanche Hazard Evaluation and Rescue Course


The Alaska Avalanche School is a non-profit organization created for the purpose of promoting public safety in and around the mountain environment through education, research, publishing, and consulting. You have our commitment that we’ll provide you with the highest quality of training possible. What you learn during the workshop will depend upon how hard you work during and prior to the course. We’ll provide you with the opportunity, the tools, and the encouragement. The rest is up to you. Please read the following information carefully.



Cost of the Course:  $345.00 Per Person

Course Duration: 3 Full Days

Tuition Includes: Instruction, and instructional handouts.

Tuition Does Not Include: Round trip transportation to and from the class-site, “Snow Sense” by Fesler & Fredston, food for the duration of the course, all personal gear and clothing (see the Equipment List for more information).

Required Reading: “Snow Sense” by Jill Fredston & Doug Fesler

Recommended Reading: “Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrian” by Bruce Tremper



This course is geared towards skiers, boarders, climbers, and other backcountry enthusiasts and is an intensive, hands-on course, which will provide students with the skills necessary to recognize and evaluate potential avalanche hazard. This course consists of 33 hours of classroom and field training.


Program curriculum consists of:

  • Group rescue techniques
  • Beacon use
  • Beacon Park practice (EasySearcher) for multiple beacon searches
  • Terrain analysis
  • Snow stability evaluation
  • Decision making
  • Route selection
  • Safe travel procedures



Students are required to read “Snow Sense” by Fredston & Fesler prior to the course start date. There is a pre-test that is sent to course participants upon enrollment, which is based on the required reading. Those who thoroughly study their pre-course material before the workshop can expect to absorb more during the course.

Participants must be able to ski or snowshoe up and downhill in variable terrain and changing snow conditions and should be prepared to remain outdoors in foul weather all day. We also recommend that you track the weather in your course location as closely as possible in the weeks prior to the course and get out and travel on the equipment you will be using for the course.



Each day of the course will begin with a morning classroom session (approx. 2-3 hours) then break to 'gear up' for the outdoor  field session. The group will be outdoors in the field until approximately 5:00 pm, then back to the classroom until 7:00 for review. Students are excused for the dinner break and end of the day after the evening classroom session.



There are two locations offered for the Level 1 Course, each with benefits to consider when making your choice.  This course is intense and consists of long days, so we highly recommend that you do not commute each day. Please take advantage of the accomodations available at each location:

Hatcher Pass

AAS Students can take advantage of free 'camping' in the heated venue of the Hatcher Pass Visitors Center. Bring your sleeping bag and pad and enjoy the comfort of the center during the class dates.  The Center provides: heat, electricity, water, microwave and coffee maker. This is the same building that the classroom sessions will be held each day. The center is open to AAS Students the night before your class begins, ensuring that you are on-site at 8:00 am for the start of the first day. Each Student is responsible for bringing their own food for breakfast, (field) lunch and dinner for the duration of the course.  The first night of each Hatcher Pass course is celebrated with a group potluck ~ each Student providing and sharing.

Girdwood / Turnagain Pass

AAS Students will meet for classroom sessions at one of two locations (USFS Ranger Station~Girdwood or the Girdwood Community Center Classroom) in Girdwood each morning. Because of the early meeting time we encourage all students to seek accomodation in Girdwood for the night. In the past, several Students that were commuting from Anchorage each morning were shut out of classes when an avalanche closed the Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood (ironic?).  Please seek out a place to stay in Girdwood with friends or use one of the following resourses for housing:

Alyeska Hostel in Girdwood: 907-783-2222, Alyeska Prince Hotel 907-754-2111, Alyeska Accommodations (B&B, Condos, Houses etc.) 907-783-2000.

Each Student is responsible for supplying their own food for breakfast, (field) lunch and dinner for the duration of the course.


Printable Information Sheet – Hatcher PassPrintable Information Sheet- Turnagain Arm

Level 1 Brochure