SMC offers Six Courses in 2022-23

  • AIARE Recreational Level 1. The Level 1 course is an introduction to avalanche phenomena, travel techniques, decision-making strategies, and avalanche rescue. The goal of this course is to make someone an informed participant in a group outing.
  • AIARE Recreational Level 2. The three day Level 2 course provides information that improves participants’ understanding of how and why avalanches occur. The goal of this course is to make someone a leader and facilitator of a group outing. Previous AIARE Level 2 courses were four days in length but this included Avalanche Rescue. So in reality the AIARE Recreational Level 2 combined with Avalanche Rescue is the same time commitment. The one day Avalanche Rescue Course is a prerequisite for this course.
  • Level 1 Extension. This is not a part of the AAA flow, but over the years of teaching Level I courses we have seen a major need for this course. You might have done the Level 1 course and now have all of this new information swirling around in your head and are not sure quite how to sort it out. We have developed our Level 1 Extension course to give you practical experience out in front making decisions and assessing conditions, all under the guidance and eye of a professional with years of backcountry experience. We think of this as our “Guardian Angel” program with your own personal “angel” along looking over your shoulder.
  • Avalanche Refresher. The one day Avalanche Refresher course is for those who have completed a previous avalanche course and at the start of a new winter want to brush up on the skills that grew rusty over the summer.
  • Avalanche Rescue. This one day Avalanche Rescue Course is a part of the new AAA flow. During the AIARE Recreational Level 1 we spend an afternoon on basic rescues skills but participants do not have much time to practice or to delve into the complexities of multiple burials or difficult situations. This course can be taken as a stand alone course without an AIARE Recreational Level 1 but we highly recommend taking it along with a AIARE Recreational Level 1. It is a prerequisite for the AIARE Recreational Level 2.
  • Professional Level I. This Professional Course is the first step in becoming an avalanche professional and we are pleased to offer this nationally recognized course with the Silverton Avalanche School

Why Choose SMC for your Course Provider?

“Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the online sessions. You have a real talent for teaching. I’m not big on the numbers/stats side of avi training — I just want to ski and climb safely — so I was pleasantly surprised that you were able to keep the presentation practical.” ~ Justin 2022

“Just a quick note to say thank you for an awesome experience. Tyler was fantastic and I really appreciated the opportunity to get out and put our learning into practice.” ~ Peter 2022

There are many avalanche instructors and avi course providers out there so why do we think we can do a better job? Experience! Many of our competitors have literally been trained by none other than SP Parker.

We have the experience!

SMC owner SP Parker oversees SMC Avalanche programs and program development. He took his first course from Sierra avalanche expert and legend Norm Wilson in 1980. He did avalanche evaluation and mitigation for Rock Creek Winter Lodge in the 1980s and has continued to expand his knowledge and skills with programs in Canada and New Zealand. Countless ski tours, hut trips and expeditions locally and worldwide have helped him produce our courses and expand the basic AIARE curriculum.

Prior to the creation of Course Providers such as American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) we were developing our own programs and creating our own curriculum. Since then we have continued to refine it, using our own knowledge of the local area and understanding of what you as a backcountry user want in order to feel comfortable inthe winter mountain environment. We take the best of the AIARE curriculum and adapt it to give you what we consider to be the most comprehensive Avalanche I course available. We believe you need a fundamental understanding of the avalanche phenomena to do a good job of risk mitigation so we don’t skimp on the classroom work. Then we take this knowledge and apply it in the field.

SP is also the first person to deny that he knows it all. To quote SP, “You should always learn something new every time you go out. It might not be what you thought you would learn but it will expand a learning that will never stop.”

We are local

The Eastern Sierra is our backyard. When you call us we know what the snow is doing and where the best conditions and learning locations are located. We can see what is happening at any time by looking our our Bishop office window to the mountains. A service in sunny Southern California cannot do that for you. Our instructors live in these mountains; we don’t import instructors from a different area or snowpack.


We not only use AIARE, Silverton and American Avalanche Association guidelines and education as a baseline for our staff, but we also undertake house training to bring all of us to the same high standard. We only hire and mentor those that we believe can do a outstanding job of relaying information to you. They are the best in the business.

Avalanche Education Flow

Difference between AIARE Recreational Level 1 and Level 2

These flow charts should help you understand where you stand in avalanche training. If you are still having trouble figuring out where you fit in, call the office at 760 873-8526.

If you know the course and date you wish to register for you can begin registration now!

Hey all! I recently took AIARE 2 with SP Parker and I have to admit it was fantastic! He showed so much passion for his craft and “patience” with us. It truly showed in the 3 days we spent together that he cares about what he does. He is so knowledgeable about snow science and in particular Eastern Sierra snow that I highly recommend participating in his courses if you’re a frequenter of this magical mountain range. Can’t thank you enough and will most surely use the lessons learned in this course to be a more safe and conscious backcountry traveler. ~ Michael E. 2022