Level 2 AIARE Avalanche Course

AIARE Level 2: Analyzing Snow Stability and Avalanche Hazard

The level 2 course is a 4-day program that provides backcountry leaders the opportunity to advance their avalanche knowledge and decision making skills. This course also includes the introductory and prerequisite components for the professional progression: the level 3 certificate.

The Level 2 builds from the introductory avalanche hazard management model introduced in the level one and adds to it the evaluation of factors critical to stability evaluation.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Advance understanding of avalanche terrain, particularly from the perspective of stability analysis.
  • Discuss how the snowpack develops and metamorphoses over time; and discuss the factors that contribute to spatial variability.
  • Learn standard observation guidelines and recording formats for factors that influence or indicate snow stability. SWAG MODULE.
  • Advance understanding of avalanche release and triggering mechanisms.
  • Introduce a snow stability analysis and forecasting framework.
  • Improve companion rescue skills including multiple and deep burials.


Instructional Sessions (40 hours including both class and field) include:

  • Level 1 Review
  • Energy balance, the mountain snowpack and metamorphism
  • Faceting; near surface and near crust faceting
  • Formation of surface hoar and persistent weak layers
  • Skier Triggering: theory and observations

*International and national snow, weather and avalanche observation and recording guidelines (SWAG). – Weather; interpreting forecasts, recording and observation techniques – Snow profile techniques and bonding tests – Avalanche observations and recording techniques

  • Stability analysis checklist: reviewing critical factors – Stability ratings – Daily stability forecasts and analysis
  • Trip Planning and hazard forecasting for avalanche terrain. – The avalanche danger ratings – Terrain analysis using maps/photos – Forecasting stability and variability
    Terrain selection and route finding – Group management and hazard management – Decision making – Human factors
  • Information gathering – Site selection and relevancy – Spatial variability – Slope tests
  • Companion Rescue – Level 1 techniques review – Multiple burial – Shovel techniques


Student Prerequisites:

  • Students must have the ability to travel in avalanche terrain.
  • An AIARE Level 1 Course (strongly recommended) or equivalent training/experience is required.
  • A winter of practical experience after the Level 1 course is recommended before taking the Level 2 course.


Required equipment for all avalanche courses:
Equipment List

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