American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE)
Prior to AIARE, there was no nationally recognized curriculum for avalanche education in the USA. The American Avalanche Association (AAA) has 'recommended guidelines' that AIARE adheres to, however, the AAA has no unified curriculum. There are many avalanche courses and programs available but in large part, course providers operate according to their own personal beliefs and ideas. There are few means for the public to assess the quality of an avalanche course or instructor.
AIARE was formed to address this situation. They have developed and continue to develop standardized curriculum for a complete program of avalanche courses that meets the needs of students at all levels, from recreational to professional and from novice to advanced. They have created and continue to create course materials for instructors and students to maximize the effectiveness of both teachers and learners. They require instructors to meet pre-requisites and attend a training sessions before they are allowed access to AIARE materials and curriculum. In addition, instructors are required to sign an agreement stating they will abide by the guidelines established by AIARE and they are required to attend regular refreshers to maintain and improve their avalanche knowledge, instructional skills, and their understanding of the evolving AIARE curriculum and materials.
The standards and guidelines developed by AIARE are not unilateral declarations by an elite group. Where applicable, AIARE standards and guidelines adhere to existing national and international standards such as those developed by the American Avalanche Association and the Canadian Avalanche Association. In addition, AIARE consults with qualified instructors when developing new curriculum or materials so the products we develop and distribute are based on a wide variety of experience, background, and knowledge. The result is a consensus driven process that has produced an avalanche education program and training courses that meet the needs of the trainers and participants alike.
Because the AIARE curriculum and materials are not owned by a private, for-profit organization they can be disseminated to people who share their educational philosophy and who meet the requirements for qualification as an instructor. By making these products available to anyone who qualifies, they hope to stimulate healthy competition in the marketplace based not on curriculum or quality of materials but on delivery, venues, and instructor quality; they feel this will result in a better education for students.
The end result is that you, as a consumer need not be concerned about the curriculum you will be taught or the materials that will be used or provided when you sign up for AIARE avalanche training. You can rest assured you'll get the same information from any AIARE course or instructor no matter where you take your course. No matter where you take your courses or who teaches them, you will obtain the pre-requisite knowledge required to progress through the program. In short, if you take a Level 1 course in New England you will qualify for a Level 2 course in Colorado and having completed a Level 2 in Colorado, you'll fit right into a Level 3 in California. Rather than wasting time shopping for a good curriculum and quality materials, leave that to AIARE; you can concentrate on finding a course that has a location, venue, and instructor team that meets your personal needs.
Finally, you as a student have a means to influence the ongoing evolution of the program, the courses, the materials, and the instructors. Course providers are required to report student feedback to AIARE on a regular basis and students have direct access to AIARE if they wish to voice concerns, give feedback, or provide ideas for improvements.
Brian Lazar Executive Director 303-618-8996
Ben Pritchett Level 3 and ITC coordinator 970 209 7594
Colin Zacharias Technical Director 604-833-4200
Tom Murphy Web Store Manager 970-209-0486
Jean Pavillard AIARE Board 970-209-3980