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Live to Ski – Ski to Live – Get educated 

Why Take AIARE Courses with Us

  • Irwin Guides avalanche education courses utilize up to 4 different drainages out of the Crested Butte basin, all within a ten minute drive from downtown Crested Butte.  If ten minutes is too much and you want the all immersive experience, sign up for one of our hut based courses and ski from the front door! 
  • Learn from trained professionals who are educators and guides alike. With professional avalanche mitigation experience from the backcountry, ski areas, snowcat, and heli skiing operations, both with and without the use of explosives.
  • Our guides are full-time practitioners who guide year round, around the world, drawing on an array of experiences throughout different snowpacks from around the world, which allows them to customize the teaching to every different group. 
  • AIARE Avalanche education began here in the Gunnison Valley, and the founders can still be seen around skiing, in turn influencing the quality and progression of Irwin Guides products. 
  • Unlike many AIARE providers, Irwin Guides limits course sizes to offer more personalized learning for each student, and ensure that each course is staffed by the highest quality instructors.

Course Description

The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) is a 3-day, 24-hour introduction to avalanche hazards. With a mix of both classroom and field time, the focus of the course is to learn how to recognize hazards, how to manage and minimize them, and finally how to respond in case of an emergency. 

Course Objectives

Students will come away from the course having learned: 

  • How to prepare and plan for a backcountry tour 
  • How to analyze an avalanche forecast
  • How to identify avalanche terrain and avalanche types
  • How to recognize hazardous conditions 
  • Basic snowpack understanding 
  • Route selection and terrain features
  • Snowpack tests and interpretation 
  • Educated decision making 
  • Basic rescue techniques 
  • Group management 


  • AIARE Level 1 Course Manual 
  • AIARE Field Book 
  • AIARE Level 1 certificate upon completion of course

Friday - Sunday Courses

  • Dec. 2nd – 4th, 2022
  • Dec. 9th – 11th, 2022
  • Dec. 16th – 18th, 2022
  • Jan. 6th – 8th, 2023
  • Jan. 13th – 15th, 2023
  • Jan. 20th – 22nd, 2023
  • Jan. 27th – 29th, 2023
  • Feb. 3rd – 5th, 2023
  • Feb. 17th – 19th, 2023
  • Mar. 3rd – 5th, 2023
  • Mar. 10th – 12th, 2023
  • Mar. 24th – 26th, 2023


  • Coming soon!

Things to Know


Per Person¹


Guest to Guide Ratio

¹Avalanche safety gear and backcountry touring set-ups can be rented for an additional fee

Tuesday - Thursday Courses

  • Dec. 20th – 22nd, 2022
  • Dec. 27th – 29th, 2022
  • Jan. 31st – Feb. 2nd, 2023
  • Feb. 24th – 26th, 2023 (Snowmobile assisted course)
  • March 14th – 16th, 2023
  • March 21st – 23rd, 2021

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday

¹Evening Zoom courses on Tuesday & Thursday with in field courses on Saturday & Sunday

  • Jan. 10th, 12th, 14th, & 15th, 2023
  • Feb. 7th, 9th, 11th, & 12th , 2023
  • Feb. 21st, 23rd, 25th, & 26th, 2023

Course Details

Ability Level2

Ability Level

Participants should be intermediate to advanced skiers/riders and be comfortable on ungroomed terrain.

Requirements Certifications Prerequisites2


Participants will need to complete precourse work before the classroom and field sessions.

Requirements Certifications Prerequisites2


Our course is certified by the American Institute of Avalanche Research & Education (AIARE) and our guides are trained by the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA).

Private Courses2

Private Courses

Private courses are available. Call our office to learn more.

Trip Length Routes Logistics Travel2


Participants will be responsible for lodging and food.

Gain skills that could make the difference in an avalanche

Click Book Now to get started planning your adventure

Photographer Add-on

Let us capture your memories so you can focus on your adventure! A photographer is $350 per trip and based on availability. Please let the Irwin Guide’s office know 48hrs before your trip if you would like to add this to your reservation.

Half Day

3 hrs.

9am - 12pm or 1 - 4 pm


First Person


Each Additional Person


Guest to Guide Ratio