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    Why you should choose SMG for your next Avalanche Course

    Why you should choose SMG for your next Avalanche Course

    Avalanche education in the United States started when the US Forest Service needed a better way to train their staff who worked in avalanche terrain back in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. In the mid 80’s the American Avalanche Association (AAA) surfaced, which marked the start of teaching avalanche safety to “non professionals” also known as recreational users.

    Since that time we have seen a lot of growth and development in avalanche education curricula. There have also been several organizations like AIARE, the American Avalanche Institute, Silverton Avalanche School, and many others that have developed their own AAA approved programs. One of the more recent changes in avalanche education in the U.S. has been the Rec-Pro split. Prior to 2017, avalanche classes were broken into 3 parts; Level 1, Level 2 and  Level 3 which users from both professional and recreational groups participated in. But this design was not serving either user group effectively. To overcome this deficiency, the programs have been divided into a recreational track, and a professional track to better serve participants. The current program flow in the US looks like this:

    Sierra Mountain Guides is a provider of  AIARE (The American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) courses that include the entire recreational track. Why AIARE? Good question! In short, we believe AIARE currently offers the best avalanche education products in the industry. But it goes a bit deeper than that. Howie Schwartz, lead guide and co-owner of SMG, conceived of the original version of the AIARE decision making framework in 2003 and still serves on the Technical Committee as an advisor today. 

    Why SMG? We have one of the most experienced teams of instructors in the country led by our owners and IFMGA Mountain Guides, Howie Schwartz and Neil Satterfield, who have been teaching avalanche education courses for nearly 30 years each. Out of the 10 members on our instructor team, 4 of them are IFMGA Certified Mountain Guides, 2 are AMGA Certified Ski Guides, Master Patrollers from Mammoth Mountain Ski Patrol AND Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center Forecasters, all who have been living and breathing the Eastern Sierra backcountry for decades. 

    Ok, we get it, our team is pretty badass. Bla bla bla. What are some of the other benefits from choosing SMG? Glad you asked! One of the biggest advantages our programs have is the venue that we have chosen and the location of our class room. Mammoth Lakes, California offers some of the best access to backcountry terrain in the entire United States. Why do you think there is a ski resort in town? Because Mammoth Lakes also gets the most snow out of anywhere else in the entire Sierra Nevada range. But one of the biggest assets to our programs is having our classroom located IN Mammoth Lakes, which means you spend less time driving and A LOT more time in the field. 

    Wow, these classes must be very expensive! Well they certainly are not cheap, but if you shop around you’ll find that our prices are competitive in the market. One other thing that sets SMG apart from other services, and you may have already noticed when you compare our Level 2 course cost with others out there. We have decided to combine the 1-day Avalanche Rescue Course with the 3-day Level 2 course. This allows our students more time for learning in the field over the 3-day Level 2 component.

    Interested in signing up with us this season? Check out our schedule below! 

    AIARE 1AIARE 2AIARE Companion RescueAIARE Refresher Tour
    January 5-7January 19-22December 30December 23
    January 13-15February 22-25January 19January 18
    January 24-26 (Weekdays)March 8-11February 22January 27
    February 2-4March 8February 10
    February 17-19February 21
    March 1-3March 7
    March 15-17March 30
    March 22-24
    April 5-7