Know before you go.

Telluride Avalanche School

The Telluride Avalanche School offers several avalanche education opportunities throughout the winter season including: one 4-day avalanche course, two 3-day avalanche courses, one 2-day avalanche course, our free Monday Night Avalanche Awareness Forum Series and as well as our free Avalanche Beacon Rescue Clinics.

Our 1 and 3-day courses curricula adhere to the curriculum from the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) and all participants receive a Certificate of Completion for these courses. Field sessions make up at least 50% of course content and are conducted in real avalanche terrain.

All of our highly-skilled instructors/guides are avalanche forecasters, snow safety experts, professional ski patrollers and/or professional members of the AAA and/or AIARE who understand the importance of creating dynamic and interesting lessons.

Our Monday Night Avalanche Forums are designed to encourage avalanche safety and awareness and involve a variety of guest speakers. They are free and open to the public.

The Telluride Avalanche School operates in partnership with the San Juan Outdoor Adventures/Telluride Adventures, a fully insured US Forest Service permitted outfitter in the Uncompahgre and San Juan National Forests and an Equal Opportunity Service Provider. Our avalanche education programs are presented in coordination with the Telluride Ski Patrol. These programs would not be possible without the generous support of the Telluride Foundation, CCAASE, TSG Ski & Golf, LLC, the Telluride Mountain Village Owner’s Association and other generous donations.

The Peter Inglis Avalanche Education Fund was created in the winter of 2016 to help individuals with avalanche education costs via scholarships in order to positively contribute to and influence avalanche education and user awareness in the Telluride region.If you are interested in applying for a scholarship to further your backcountry learning, email with details in your inquiry.


AIARE Level 1

Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain

The AIARE 1 is a three-day / 24-hour introduction to avalanche hazard management.

Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a backcountry trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn rescue techniques required to find and dig up a buried person (if an avalanche occurs and someone in the party is caught).

Student learning outcomes

At the end of the AIARE 1 course the student should be able to:

  • Develop a plan for travel in avalanche terrain.
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify avalanche terrain.
  • Effectively use the AIARE Decision Making Framework to make terrain choices in a group setting
  • Demonstrate effective companion rescue.

Who Should Take this Course

The AIARE 1 is for anyone, regardless of method of travel, who wants to recreate in or near avalanche terrain. Participants may have attended some awareness classes or workshops or completed the Avalanche Rescue course, but none are a prerequisite for this course.

Aspiring professionals will need to take the AIARE 1 and Avalanche Rescue as a prerequisite for the Pro 1 course.


Students must be able to travel in avalanche terrain and bring appropriate equipment for traveling on snow to class. There are no other prerequisites.

2020-2021 Dates


If you are interested in setting up a private group, please contact us.

Contact Us

2020-2021 Dates


If you are interested in setting up a private group, please contact us.

Contact Us

AIARE Avalanche Rescue

AIARE Avalanche Rescue is a one-day stand alone course that is intended to be retaken on a regular basis in order to keep abreast of best practices in rescue techniques and gear. New participants will learn the basics of companion rescue, while return participants will expand their skill set with advanced topics and realistic scenario practice to help improve their skills after the course.

Each participant will have the opportunity to receive professional coaching their rescue skills and will receive a rescue card acknowledging completion date at course end.

AIARE Avalanche Rescue is a prerequisite for the AIARE 2 and Pro 1 courses. AIARE recommends that all backcountry travelers keep their skills current by taking an Avalanche Rescue Course and receiving a rescue card at least every other year.

Student learning outcomes

At the end of the Avalanche Rescue course the student should be able to:

  • Describe what to do if they or a member of their party is caught in an avalanche
  • Identify and be able to use gear necessary for avalanche rescue.
  • Set up a realistic scenario in order to practice an avalanche rescue response.
  • Improve their response skills and times during and after the course with feedback from instructors and peers.
  • Develop a plan for continued practice

All students will have the opportunity to get feedback from an instructor on their rescue skills and timed practice with a realistic scenario.

Students who have previously taken an AIARE 1 or an Avalanche Rescue Course will find value in having a professional help them set up a realistic scenario, practice skills in a realistic setting, receive feedback from an instructor, keep up with current best practices, and have an opportunity to practice advanced rescue skills.

Who Should Take this Course

The Avalanche Rescue Course is a one-day course aimed both at new and experienced recreationists, and aspiring snow professionals.


Students must be able to travel in the snow, and bring appropriate equipment for traveling on snow to class. There are no other prerequisites.

Community Avalanche Programs

Searching with Avalanche Beacon

Monday Night Avalanche Awareness Forum Series

Where: Rebekah Hall – 113 West Columbia
When: TBA

Join the San Juan Field School and Telluride Ski Patrol on select Monday nights to hear a variety of guest speakers. This series is designed to encourage avalanche safety and awareness. These evening discussions take place 5-6 times throughout the winter season. Our programs involve a variety of guest speakers and are designed to stimulate thought about avalanche safety. Free to the public. Call (970) 728-4101 for information.

Avalanche Beacon Rescue Clinics

Our free Avalanche Beacon Rescue Clinics are offered 4-6 times each season. In these 2-3 hour sessions, you will have the opportunity to meet with a variety of avalanche professionals to learn the latest techniques in avalanche beacon rescue while engaging in supervised practice in the field. Specific clinic dates to be announced. FREE and open to the public. Call (970) 728-4101 for information.

Norwood Classroom Fieldtrip AVI training

Classroom Extension Programs

Each year, the Telluride Avalanche School works with Telluride area classroom teachers to create experiential education programs that enhance the educational curricula of their classes. Whether students are studying the sciences, humanities or outdoor education, the Telluride Avalanche School is able to create programs that meet the needs of each student group. Our programs take students to outdoor classrooms so that they may explore the natural and cultural history of the Telluride region. The Telluride Avalanche School successfully works with a variety of local teachers to create specialized curricular experiences that meet their academic goals.

To this end, the Telluride Avalanche School has an extensive Avalanche Education program that reaches students in all area schools. A survey conducted in the Telluride Middle/High School in 2000, revealed that many students considered themselves expert skiers/riders with adequate knowledge to travel in Telluride’s backcountry, specifically through the Ski Area’s Backcountry Access Points. And yet, when asked how to recognize avalanche terrain, use avalanche rescue gear, or what to do in case of an emergency, most students exhibited a profound ignorance about proper protocols. The Telluride Ski Area has no way of controlling who may leave the ski area and enter the dangerous avalanche terrain of Bear Creek. It thus becomes the responsibility of local educational organizations to provide our youth with an adequate understanding of the profound dangers associated with skiing/riding Telluride’s Backcountry.

Norwood 6-8 grade AVI classroom extension

Living In Avalanche Country – An 8th Grade Science Unit

In conjunction with the Telluride School District’s Outdoor Education Program, The Telluride Avalanche School works each year with local teacher, Colin Hubbard to create a two-week 8th Grade Mini-Unit in Avalanche Education. Students in this program devote their science classes to learning about the geo-dynamics of avalanches and how weather, terrain, and snowpack all play significant roles in creation of avalanches. They gain an understanding of the basic physics of snow science and how the metamorphism of individual snow crystals results in a recipe for disaster. The program culminates in an in-depth field trip to Lizard Head Pass in which students join a variety of avalanche professionals to dig snowpits, learn avalanche rescue techniques and practice route-finding skills.