AIARE Avalanche Education Courses

Avalanche Education with Irwin Guides provides an experience of a lifetime. Each course offers exciting avalanche training, and will prepare you for being safe in the backcountry. From beginner avalanche courses to advanced level avalanche courses, our skilled and certified guides will help you develop and attain skills for your future endeavors. 

Irwin Guides professional team of AMGA Certified Ski Guides, Professional Ski Patrollers, and Professional Ski Instructors have been developing and teaching the curriculum of the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) since it first began in Crested Butte, Colorado. 

Quick and easy access to numerous trailheads, vast ski terrain for all abilities, and a full array of town and backcountry-hut based course options means we have what it takes to offer you the best avalanche education experience available. Lodging options and discounts are also available!

If you are newer to avalanche education courses, the diagram below will help direct you to which AIARE Avalanche Course you should participate in. 


Please visit one of the following pages for our available Avalanche Courses and more details!

COVID-19 UPdate 

COIVD-19 Protocols at the time of your course Irwin Guides will be following industry best practices for COVID 19 screening. While these practices may change or evolve before your course, you can at present expect the following screening practices: 
All Staff and participants will have their temperature taken before they are allowed to participate in the day’s activities. 
Temperatures will be below 100.4F. 
All staff and participants will participate in a COVID 19 signs and symptoms questionnaire. Staff and participants will be asked to wear masks when social distancing cannot be maintained during course instruction. 
Additional measures may be required by state and local authorities at the time of your course.

If you do start showing signs or symptoms of COVID 19 while on course, you will be ask to leave immediately for the health and safety of other participants and Irwin Guides will work to accommodate you on another course or portion of course. 

With current COVID 19 Protocols in place, our courses are going to look a little different this winter. 

Format 1+2 
Our courses will be held as a 1+2 format, with 1 day online and 2 full days outside. This will be Fridays online, and Sat/Sun in the field. There will also be a small module of pre-course online learning that will give you the foundational knowledge for the course. 

Day 1 - Friday The first day of your course will be held entirely online from 8:30am-4:40pm. Your course leader will provide a link to the online portion of your course prior to course. You can expect this day to be an interactive online meet-up with presentations, break-out sessions, and a small amount of homework to complete for the following day. Please ensure you have a laptop and sufficient internet connection for this day.

Day 2 and 3 We will meet at backcountry trailheads within 20 min of Crested Butte each day at 8:00am sharp. Your course leader will include these locations in the email that comes out 1 week prior to your course. Please realize that locations may be subject to change based on weather or snow coverage conditions, but we will endeavor to keep course locations close to town. Each of these 2 days will involve full 8 hr days outside in the elements, please be prepared for changing weather conditions while traveling. 

Day 2 and 3 Debriefs Debriefing is a core component of the AIARE curriculum. You can expect there to be an end of day debrief at the Trailhead on each of these days. On Day 3, this may be 30-45min. Please bring items that will make you comfortable and present for debrief. Suggested items include, one or more large puffy jackets, thermos with a hot beverage, hand warmers, dry gloves or mittens, and winter boots that are separate from your ski and snowboard boots. 


8th Annual Knox Frank Memorial Scholarship for Avalanche Education 

Knox Frank’s love of the mountains was more than an infatuation; it was a need which was only made better when shared with friends, of which he had many.

After college, Knox moved to the Colorado Rockies surrounding himself with others who shared his deep appreciation of their beauty, challenges, and magic. His love of snow and winter took him to Canada, the Cascades, Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. Wherever he went, he built bridges and community and mentored many into accomplished backcountry skiers and mountaineers. He always found time for others, kept an easy smile and used his uncanny sense of humor to deliver an encouraging word.

Knox died skiing with a group of friends in a spring avalanche, 2012. This scholarship honors Knox’s memory as a skier, community member, mentor and friend. It offers a unique opportunity for the recipient to walk in Knox’s shoes in his beloved backcountry community of Crested Butte, and to further backcountry education while experiencing a memorable time in a true ski town community. The chosen winner will receive a FREE avalanche education package in Crested Butte, CO including:
  • Enrollment in any scheduled AIARE Level 1, Level 2, or Refresher Course with Irwin Guides; · Lodging;
  • Breakfast supplied by Gas Café;
  • Evening food and beverages provided by The Brick Oven Pizzeria and Pub.

Scholarship qualifications:
Applicants are required to submit a short video (no more than 3 minutes) or an essay (no more than 2000 words) describing who you are, your passion for the outdoors and for skiing and/or snowboarding, and how you will use your newfound knowledge to educate your community and friends. We also need to know:
  • where you live
  • which course you will register for
  • your age (you must be 18 years or older) 
  • your telephone number 
Upon completion of the course, the scholarship recipient will be required to provide the following: ·
  • an essay about what was learned 
  • 5 pictures from the course
  • a thank you note to the scholarship committee and sponsors 
To apply, please send your essay or video application to: (subject: Knox Scholarship).
All applications are due on or before Sunday, October 27, 2019.
The winner will be announced November 3, 2019, via telephone. All applicants and friends are invited to a party held in honor of Knox on January 24, 2020, at The Brick Oven Pizzeria & Pub, 223 Elk Avenue, Crested Butte, CO.

Irwin Guides is proud to partner with Ortovox! Watch one of their avalanche education trailers here!

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