AIARE Level 1 Course

January 30-February 1, 2016

The Basics

If you plan to spend a lot of time in the backcountry, this is some seriously vital knowledge. The AIARE Level 1 course is a 3-day/24-hour introduction to avalanche hazard management. The course is expected to:

  • Provide a basic understanding of avalanches
  • Describe a framework for decision making and risk management in avalanche terrain
  • Focus on identifying the right questions, rather than on providing “answers.”
  • Give lessons and exercises that are practically oriented, useful, and applicable in the field.

Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn rescue techniques required to locate and extricate a buried person(s).  

Course Details

You can learn more about specifics of the AIARE course curriculum by clicking here.

Course Dates:

  • January 30-February 1, 2016.  

Course Cost:

  • $325 (you will need to arrange lodging & meals)


  • Saturday-Sunday: Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center, Pinkham Notch, NH
  • Monday: Tuckerman Ravine, Pinkham Notch, Field Tour/Skills Application (Weather & Conditions Permitting)

Course Size: Minimum of 6 students, maximum of 12 students.

Instructors: The instructors are John Kascenska & Kel Rossiter. Both have extensive experience in mountain leadership and instruction. Bios about both of these instructors appear at the end of this page.

Course Materials/Equipment/Clothing: All instructional materials (books, notebooks) and related equipment (transceivers, shovels, probes) will be provided for the course. You will need to bring a 30-40 liter backpack and clothing and footwear suitable to the variable (and typically cold) conditions of the White Mountains. It is possible that snowshoes will be necessary. If this is the case, the course instructors will let you know and will give you info about places to rent them.

Lodging: For Sunday night the AMC Joe Dodge Lodge is a good option, as it is right in Pinkham Notch where we'll meet on Sunday.  Consider a 1 year of AMC membership (only $50) to save money on lodging, support this organization, and get a bunch of benefits.  For Friday/Saturday nights, the closest lodging is at the AMC Highland Notch Visitor Center, or there are numerous other lodging options in the Mt. Washington Valley, which is a 30-45 minute drive.  Groups and individuals looking to save on lodging and meal costs often enjoy staying at the White Mountain Hostel.  

Payment: A 30% deposit confirms your place on this course. Details about payment can be found on our Scheduling Page.

Pre-Course Preparation: While not necessary, if you'd like to read up about avalanches, a good book is "Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain" by Bruce Tremper, available through many online booksellers.

Other Questions, Etc: Adventure Spirit prides itself on its customized service—if you’ve got any particular questions, etc, please contact owner/lead guide Kel Rossiter at adventurespiritguides@[remove this text]

Instructor Bios

John Kascenska, Course Leader: John has more than 27 years of professional outdoor experience. Blending work in the college community as the Assistant Academic Dean at Lyndon State College with teaching in the College's Mountain Recreation Management program and with SOLO Wilderness Medicine and the American Institute for Avalanche Research & Education (AIARE), John has a lifelong interest in learning in the outdoors. John is an American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Certified Single Pitch Instructor, SOLO Certified Wilderness First Responder, SOLO Instructor, AIARE Level 1 Course Leader, Professional Member of the American Avalanche Association, and boardmember of the American Alpine Club. He holds a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from North Carolina State University, a master's degree from Virginia Tech, and a bachelor's from Lyndon State College.

Kel Rossiter, Course Instructor: After stints in the military, the corporate world, and a Zen monastery, Kel began his climbing career in the Pacific Northwest back in the 90s with a summit of Mt. Adams. Since then, he has climbed and guided rock and ice in twelve different countries on four continents. During the summers, he is back out in the Pacific Northwest's Cascade Range and in Alaska guiding with Rainier Mountaineering Inc. Based in Vermont most of the year, Kel owns and operates Adventure Spirit Rock+Ice+Alpine Experiences LLC, a guide service specializing in Northeastern climbing destinations. Kel is also active in higher education, serving as a faculty member/instructor at several area colleges and recently completing his own doctoral studies in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies. He compliments his academic training with training through the American Mountain Guide Association, having become both a Certified Rock Guide and Certified Alpine Guide. In between his stints in the mountains, Kel serves on the board of CRAG-VT, Vermont's climbing access organization, and is an avid home-crafts enthusiast and meditation practitioner. You can find out more details about Kel's credentials and climbing history HERE.