New Hampshire Climbing Guide -- Mountaineering Instructor -- Member of The North Face Climbing Team

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Mark Synnot - AMGA Certified Rock Guide
AMGA Certified
Rock Guide

Decision Making In Avalanche Terrain

Synnott Mountain Guides AIARE classes are organized by IFMGA Guide Mark Synnott, who has over 30 years of experience working and playing in Avalanche terrain.

Mark and his instructors are able to not only teach the AIARE standard curriculum, but also draw on their own personal experiences and passion for Avalanche awareness to prepare you for your own adventures.

Upon completion of this class, you will be certified by the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education - a globally recognized organization whose mission is to "Save Lives through Avalanche Awareness."

Whether you plan to be in the backcountry this winter snowmobiling, skiing, climbing or snowshoeing, you need this knowledge to play safely in snow-covered mountains.

All avalanche equipment for this course will be provided by SMG, however you are encouraged to bring your own. SMG also has Mammut Shovel/Beacon/Probe packages for sale at a discounted price for AIARE students: a great opportunity to equip yourself and learn with the actual gear you will be using when you are out on your own!

2016/2017 Course Dates:

December 29-31, 2016
January 6-8, 2017
February 11-13, 2017
February 18-20, 2017
March 10-12, 2017

Cost: $400 per person
Payment in full is due at the time of the reservation

AIARE Level 1 Course Overview:

The Level 1 is a three day(24 hours) 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 find and dig up a buried person (if an avalanche occurs and someone in the party is caught).

A final debrief includes a knowledge quiz to test student comprehension and to give feedback to instructors on instructional tools. Students are encouraged and counseled on how to apply the skills learned and told that no course can fully guarantee safety, either during or after course completion. A link is made to a future AIARE Level 2 course.

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

Plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain
Recognize avalanche terrain
Describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain
Learn and apply effective companion rescue

Instructional sessions (24 hours including both class and field instruction):

1. Introduction to the Avalanche Phenomena

Types and characteristics of avalanches
Avalanche motion
Size classification
The mountain snowpack: an introduction to metamorphism and layering

2. Observations and Information Gathering

Field observation techniques
Snowpack tests: rutschblock, compression test
Avalanche danger factors or “Red Flags”
Observation checklist
Avalanche danger scale

3. Trip Planning and Preparation

Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment, and selection
Route finding and travel techniques
Decision making and Human Factors

4. Companion Rescue and Equipment


No previous experience is required. Appropriate physical and mental fitness is necessary. Participants will be required to perform physically strenuous activities.

Custom dates are also available, please fill out our contact form or call the office at 603-733-8416 for more information.

Required equipment for all avalanche courses:

Ski socks
Long underwear top and bottom
Fleece or softshell pants
Fleece Jacket
Hard shell (Gore-Tex or other waterproof/breathable) pants/bibs and jacket
Puffy coat (synthetic or down)
Warm hat
Balaclava/neck warmer
1 pr. approach/lightweight gloves
1 pr. warm waterproof gloves or mitts
Day pack (approx. 3000 cu. in)
Headlamp with extra batteries
2 liters of water or thermos
Lunch and snacks for each day
Lip balm
Sun screen
Alpine touring or Telemark skis or Splitboard with skins, or Snowboard and snowshoes, or just snowshoes.
Ski Boots
Ski poles
Optional: Repair kit, camera, altimeter watch, first aid kit, Mt. Washington map, compass

We will supply you with beacon, probe and shovel, but if you have your own, please let us know. You will also be receiving from us an AIARE Field Book and the AIARE Level 1 Student Manual.
Synnott Mountain Guides Climbing Courses
Intro to Mountaineering - 2 day with overnight
Custom Private Mountaineering Program
Mt. Washington Guided Hike
Mt. Washington One Day Winter Ascent
Intro to Mountaineering - 3 day with overnight
Intermediate Mountaineering
Mt. Rainier Prep
Mt. Washington Observatory Overnight
Presidential Traverse
Lion's Head Winter Route Overview
Tuckerman Ravine Winter Climbing Overview
Intro to Rock Climbing
Family Rock Climbing
Cathedral Ledge Overview
Whitehorse Ledge Overview
Custom Private Rock Climbing Course
Advanced Rock Climbing Techniques
Toprope Set-ups
Learn to Lead course
AMGA Single Pitch Instructor Courses and Exams
Youth Rock Climbing Overnight Camp June 24-27,2016
Maine - Acadia Rock Climbing
Mt. Katahdin Alpine Rock Climbing
Custom Backpacking Overnight
Custom Private Ice Climbing Course
Intro to Ice Climbing
Intermediate Ice Climbing
Advanced Ice Climbing
Grafton Notch Ice Climbing
Mixed Climbing 101
Aid Climbing Instruction
Introduction to Self-Rescue
Intro to Backcountry Ski
Advanced Backcountry Skiing
Huntington Ravine Gully Skiing
Mt. Washington Avalanche Awareness Course
AIARE Level 1
Cotopaxi Expedition
Mexican Volcanoes Expedition
Aconcagua Expedition