With the new restrictions at many Colorado ski resorts due to COVID-19, maybe this is the year you want to try taking on the backcountry and staying away from the resorts. Whether you are a seasoned backcountry skier or a first-timer, it is so important that you have the training and safety measures to make the most of your adventure.
57hours is an awesome outdoor adventure company in Colorado. You see, there are 57hours between 3 pm on Friday and midnight on Sunday. 57hours built their company’s mission based on these 57 hours. These are the hours where you can escape your job and responsibilities, pack your car with gear and your favorite people, and spend as much time as you can in the mountains. You return Sunday night, exhausted and rejuvenated, ready to tackle the upcoming week. You can make the most of your weekends in Colorado because the mountains are so accessible … just drive down I70! 57hours offers guided trips and educational programs to prepare you for tackling backcountry skiing in the most fun and safest way possible.
Going into the backcountry is easy and fun. But making correct and safe decisions isn’t always straightforward when you’re in the field. A fundamental part of any backcountry adventurer’s toolkit is avalanche awareness. 57hours’ AIARE Avalanche (American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education) classes give you the foundations for safe backcountry travel.
Warning: For a gear guide and introduction to all essential backcountry skiing items, please visit our Backcountry Gear Article. For ANYONE traveling into avalanche territory, consider enrolling in an Avalanche training course by AIARE; it absolutely save lives. See the following link for a listing of all the Avalanche Education opportunities at 57hours.
Prerequisites for Avalanche Education
Some may think that only the most advanced skiers and boarders can take it to the backcountry, but that is not necessarily true. You don’t need to be an especially advanced skier or boarder, but you should be comfortable making descents in various snow conditions. It is also important that you are in good physical shape. Backcountry skiing requires an extensive amount of ascending moderate slopes using skins. To be successful in the backcountry and in avalanche education, you need to have the appropriate alpine touring (AT), telemark, or split board equipment. Take time to familiarize yourself with your gear and make sure everything is in good working condition. You must have the AT, telemark, or split board equipment, but everything else you need is available for rent through 57hours or an affiliate during the avalanche training.
Remember, it isn’t enough to simply own gear; take the time to figure out how to use it before heading out. Speed is key, especially in a backcountry avalanche rescue. Visit Backcountry Gear: Essential for Human Powered Skiing to get comfortable with the necessary gear and how to use it. Check out our Guide to Planning a Backcountry Ski Adventure for an in-depth analysis of the planning process.
Aspen – Avalanche Education
Aspen offers some of the most epic backcountry skiing in Colorado. It is absolutely worth the drive from Denver to ski these amazingly beautiful peaks. Before hitting the backcountry, it is essential to take an avalanche education course. The AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course in Aspen provides a complete introduction to the avalanche phenomenon, avalanche terrain, decision making, and rescue. 57hours and affiliated programs in Aspen have been teaching avalanche training since the 80s, and they have detailed knowledge of the Colorado snowpack. The AIARE instructors all have extensive experience guiding, teaching, and skiing the backcountry. You are in great hands with 57hours.
The AIARE Level 1 Course is a comprehensive three-day course that focuses on: hazardous conditions and how to recognize and evaluate them, educated decision-making on risky terrain, navigating winter mountain route selection, and evaluating and understanding snowpack. The Level 1 Course includes around 8 hours of classroom instruction and roughly 16 hours of field instruction.
The course costs $495 and includes:
· A trained and certified AIARE instructor and ski guide,
· Use of an avalanche beacon, shovel, probe, and ski pack,
· AIARE dues,
· An AIARE field book, and
· A USFS land use surcharge.
It does not include your ski equipment, a $30 single ride lift ticket, or lunch and snacks.
A sample itinerary of the Level 1 Course looks something like this:
· Day 1: 5:00 pm: Meet at Aspen Expeditions’ Backcountry Center
· Day 2: 8:30 am: A combination of classroom and field instruction; 5:30 pm: More classroom education
Expect to learn all the basics of extensive avalanche training in the Level 1 Course.
The AIARE Avalanche Rescue is a one-day, stand-alone course meant to be taken frequently to keep up with the best practices in rescue techniques and gear. New students learn the basics of companion rescue. Returning students expand their skills with realistic scenario practice, where they will receive professional coaching on their rescue skills. By the end of the course, students can describe what to do if a member of their party is caught in an avalanche, identify and use the necessary gear, and more. This class costs $195 per participant.
The AIARE Avalanche Level 2 course is designed for those interested in expanding their knowledge and understanding of snow stability and the factors affecting snow stability. This course is ideal for snow safety and guiding professionals or other people interested in this career. It is also helpful for recreational skiers and group leaders looking for advanced knowledge and skills.
Like the Level 1 Course, Level 2 is a two-day program that provides avid backcountry users and leaders the materials to advance their knowledge and decision-making skills. To take the Level 2 course, students must be able to travel in avalanche terrain and have taken the AIARE Level 1 Course and Avalanche Rescue Course or have the equivalent experience. The Level 2 Course costs $600 and includes the same items as Level 1.
In this class, participants develop an understanding of topics like snowpack formation, metamorphism, surface hoar formation, stability testing, observation guidelines, and temperature gradients and their effects on snow.
Crested Butte – Avalanche Education
Avalanche education in Crested Butte offers an experience of a lifetime. Known as “the last great Colorado ski town,” Crested Butte is a unique place. Each course offers exciting avalanche training and prepares you for being safe when you ski in the backcountry. From beginner to advanced-level avalanche courses, their guides help you develop and attain skills for your future endeavors.
57hours’ professional team of AMGA Certified Ski Guides, Professional Ski Patrollers, and Professional Ski Instructors have been developing and teaching the curriculum of AIARE since it first began right here in Crested Butte, Colorado. They offer access to numerous trailheads for all abilities and town and backcountry hut-based course options. Crested Butte offers some of the best avalanche education experience available.
Like the courses in Aspen, the AIARE class is a standardized three-day, 24-hour introduction to avalanche hazards. The instructors in Crested Butte combine classroom and field education to teach participants how to recognize hazards, manage and minimize them, and respond in emergencies.
The Level 1 Course in Crested Butte costs $550 per person with a maximum of 12 students to 2 instructors.
Again, similar to the course in Aspen, the AIARE Level 2 course in Crested Butte is a three-day course to provide backcountry travelers an opportunity to advance their decision-making skills in more complicated situations. Students learn to differentiate where specific avalanche hazards exist within the landscape and identify avalanche terrain where consequences could be more severe, how to demonstrate leadership skills within a small team, and more.
The Level 2 Course in Crested Butte costs $550 per person.
Gain the decision-making skills necessary to evaluate and travel in avalanche terrain with this AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course! There is no better way to brush upon your backcountry education than the amazing powder-filled scenery of Vail, Colorado. The Level 1 course includes a one-day remote classroom session, followed by two full days in the field. Learn from the very best and become skilled in exploring the most impressive backcountry terrain in the area!
The Level 1 Course in Vail costs $585 per person.
Check out the Avalanche Education adventures in Colorado with 57hours
Global Rescue Membership
Skyblue Overland Strongly Recommends That You Enroll With Global Rescue Prior To Embarking On Your Next Adventure.
With more people outside now more than ever, Global Rescue expanded services to include field rescue within 100 miles of home. With Local Field Rescue — automatically included in any travel protection services membership — Global Rescue is there whether you’re hiking, kayaking, snowmobiling, fishing or simply enjoying the outdoors and get ill or injured and you’re unable to get to safety on your own. Purchase a Global Rescue membership for your next adventure and travel with peace of mind. Single trip, annual and family options are available.
Memberships start at $119.