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    SMG AIARE 1 Prep

    SMG AIARE 1 Prep

    Are you looking to skip the lines and get into the backcountry this winter?

    You’ll want to take your AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course

    Here’s what to expect on your course.

    The focus of the AIARE curriculum is getting out into the backcountry safely,  but your course has so much more to offer.  Prepare to have a lot of fun and meet new friends!  AIARE has been developing and providing avalanche education curriculums since the early 1990s.  As part of your course you will learn the AIARE Risk Management Framework that is a step by step process to make decisions in a complex environment.

    Your AIARE 1 Course with Sierra Mountain Guides will be done in a hybrid format for the winter 2021-22 season with important learning sessions done in our virtual classroom.  The field portion of the course will be conducted over two days in the Mammoth Lakes Area.

    One way you can set yourself up for success is to get all your equipment in order.  With the hybrid model you will need special equipment for the virtual sessions.  There is also maybe some new equipment you’ll want to be familiar with for the backcountry.

    Virtual Classroom Considerations:

    For the virtual sessions this means getting ready with your desktop or laptop. Phones and tablets can work, but you will miss out on some of the functionality.  We use Zoom as a platform for the virtual sessions so you will want to download the Zoom Application for your computer if you have not already done so.  Making sure your Zoom is up to date with the latest version can also help smooth out some potential issues with connectivity.  Having a solid internet connection is also critical for you to get the most out of the virtual sessions.

    Backcountry Equipment:

    When we go to the field, some of the equipment should be familiar and some may be new to you.

    Here is a list of common winter clothing you should be familiar with: 

    Ski/Snowboard Jacket

    Snow Pants

    Thermal layers

    Ski socks

    Warm Hat

    Warm Gloves

    Thinner gloves for touring

    Sun Glasses


    Snow Goggles

    Touring Specific Equipment that may be new to you*:

    Backcountry Skis with Touring Bindings OR Splitboard and Bindings 

    Climbing Skins

    Backcountry Ski or Snowboard Boots


    Snowshoes and Snow Boots

    Ski Poles(3 section collapsible poles are better for splitboarders)

    Backcountry Ski Pack

    Optional Equipment:

    Plastic Scraper

    Binding Tool

    Block of Ski Wax

    Personal First Aid Kit

    Required Safety Equipment** (Provided by SMG):




    Prior to the first field day it is worth taking the time to get familiar with your equipment.  If you are renting, the shop can help you with some of the nuances of backcountry boots and bindings.  However, there is no substitute for “on snow” practice.  A couple of helpful operations you can practice are: switching your bindings and boots between uphill and downhill mode, placing and removing climbing skins, finding a flat snow field and walking around in tour mode with skins on.  These simple practice sessions will help you to arrive ready to go. If you are in need of equipment our partner Sage to Summit, down in Bishop, has a great selection of backcountry ski and splitboard setups for rent including Skis, Boots, Skins and Poles. Splitboard renters will need to provide their own boots. 

    On Course Expectations:

    Field Session #1:

    The first field day will consist of training in the use of our safety equipment and a tour to get to know the snowpack and mountain environment.  Showing up on time with all your equipment ready to go is a great way to get the most out of the field sessions.

    Topics for this day include:

    Avalanche Rescue

    Study of the snowpack

    Making Snowpack Observations

    Basics of Backcountry Movement

    Preparation for the next day

    Field Session #2:

    The second field day is your chance to put the AIARE Risk Management Framework into practice.  By working with your peers and building a strong team you will have a chance to plan and lead a backcountry tour.  Our instructors will be there to help facilitate this powerful learning experience.

    Other topics for this day include:

    Continuing to Observe the Snowpack

    Travel through and Assess Terrain

    Work as a Team

    Ski/Snowboard the backcountry!

    Debrief the Day

    When you get back from the field there will be an opportunity to reflect on the course and analyze decisions made in the backcountry.

    At Sierra Mountain Guides we love the backcountry and our guides and instructors look forward to working with you this winter.  Backcountry skiing and snowboarding is an incredible way to experience the mountains.  We hope you will join us!