Course Descriptions>Avalanche Courses

Private, Semi Private Guiding

Ski Mountaineering


Wilderness Medicine


American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education

Yes, avalanches do happen in New England and each year a number of backcountry enthusiasts are injured or killed in New England from avalanches.


Simply our instructor team is the strongest in New England and our courses reflect that. We were at the table early on when the concept of furthering public avalanche education in the U.S. was being discussed and the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education was being created. For several years we were the only climbing school sponsoring AIARE avalanche courses in the eastern U.S. We often ran them at a financial loss, brought avalanche guru Karl Klassen (canadian IFMGA guide, chief forecaster for the Canadian Avalanche Association, and initial technical director for AIARE) in from western Canada to teach them, and corralled all of our friends to attend just to have enough people to run the course. In fact, many of the snow rangers and current avalanche course providers who are working or have worked on Mount Washington were participants in those early courses. Today, times have changed and demand for courses has created an abundance of courses and providers. While all the courses are good, we believe ours to be superior and here's why:

Jon Tierney is the longest standing, continuous provider of AIARE avalanche courses in the east. He first brought avalanche courses to New England as early as 1986 on Katahdin. He began co-instructing with and was mentored by Karl Klassen in the mid 90's with the inception of AIARE. In his lifetime, Jon has a love of high places and has spent a lot of time on snow as an alpine and ski guide and a climbing ranger and you will benefit from that experience. He brings you experience from ranging from high altitude peaks in Alaska, China and South American to mountains of New England. Jon is known for making things easy to understand and his excellent blend of teaching skills that are highly effective with groups. If you take a course with Jon, you will take another. Jon is an AIARE Level I course leader, Level II course leader and a graduate of the Level III professional course.

"Jon is a very experienced professional guide and one of best outdoor educators in the AMGA. His client care and technical skills are excellent." - 2006, Bela Vadasz (Ski Mountaineering discipline coordinator) and Rob Hess (AMGA Technical Director).

Al Mandell is a superb, technically precise skier who has coached several aspiring IFMGA guides on their ski skills in preparation for their ski exams. But more than that he has a huge passion for skiing that you can't help but become infected by. He is an engineer so avalanche science makes sense and he is able to share it with participants in a very understandable and excited manner. Al has completed the AMGA Ski Guides Course and AMGA Advanced Ski Mountaineering Course and Aspirant Exam this spring and is pursue the AMGA Ski Mountaineering Certification. Al is an AIARE Level I course leader, Level II course leader and a graduate of the Level III professional course.

Blake Keogh is the newest member of our team but he is no stranger to snow. A superb skier, Blake shadowed and assisted on nearly every course we ran in 2015 and 2016. Now that's a lot of commitment from someone whose friends are all out there shredding the "pow" on those freshie days. That commitment extends to research and Blake completed his graduate thesis on the subject of The Human Factor Effect and Avalanches in Tuckerman Ravine. Blake an AIARE Level I course instructor. Blake is a Level 1 course instructor and graduate of the Level III professional course as well.

So before you just sign up for a course, compare our instructor team to others. When you do, the choice will be easy.

Each participant on an AMGCS avalanche course will be provided a beacon, probe and shovel. Interestingly we were surprised to learn that not all northeastern avalanche courses traveling in avalanche terrain were outfitted with the core safety tools. Additionally each group of four will be provided a group snow study kit. Of course, if you have your own you are welcome to use it.

At each course we bring a selection of brand new beacons, probes and shovels along with avalanche packs and snow study tools. Student can try these and purchase them at a significant discount if they like. If you need outdoor gear, all AMGCS clients also get a lifetime 15% personal purchase discount at

We have access to Katahdin! Hands down, Katahdin is the best area in New England for an avalanche course. For our Katahdin avalanche courses we stay in a warm bunkhouse (courtesy of Baxter State Park) and are only minutes away from real avalanche terrain on a variety of aspects. The area works well for both skiers and snowshoers.

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Course - Avalanche Awareness and Rescue

Courses start Friday evening at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.

December 15 - 17, 2017, Washington, NH,
December 28 - 30, 2017, Washington, NH,
January 5 - 7, 2018, Washington, NH,
January 19 - 21, 2018, Washington, NH,
January 26 - 28, 2018, Washington, NH,
February 2 - 4, 2018, Washington, NH.
February 9 - 11, 2018, Washington, NH,
February 16 - 21, Chic Chocs - Quebec.
In conjunction with a backcountry ski trip. $1200.00 including hut fees, meals, ski guiding and Level II course.
March 3 - 4, 2018, Sugarloaf USA, Maine.
$350.00. (2 day).
March 9 - 11, 2018, Washington, NH,

This introductory course is a must for all who travel into the mountains in winter and will help you to understand safe winter travel. It is also a great tune up for winter travelers who have some experience or prior training. Snowboarders, skiers, snowmobilers, snowshoers, and mountaineers will learn the basics of avalanche hazard formation through the relationships of terrain, snowpack, weather and people. Participants will learn about interpreting forecasts, trip planning considerations, route selection, travel techniques, educated decision making, and search and rescue skills including use of transceivers and probes. The course combines classroom skills with field time to help you to answer these questions: Where is the danger? When is it dangerous? Should we go on? What do I do if caught? (approximately 24 hours).

Our Mt. Washington courses are typically structured to begin in the evening of day 1 and have a evening session on day 2 instead of meeting in the morning on day 1. This often allows participants to travel more conveniently. About 1/3 of day 2 and all of day 3 is spent in the field.

Prerequisites: Students must have the ability to travel in avalanche terrain on either skis or snowshoes.

We are also available to deliver customized courses for organizations or individuals around New England and Eastern Canada.

AIARE Level II Avalanche Course - Snow Observation and Stability Analysis

2018 Dates
February 3 - 5, Mount Washington, NH.

February 16 - 21, Chic Chocs - Quebec.
In conjunction with a backcountry ski trip. $1200.00 including hut fees, meals, ski guiding and Level II course.

March 17 - 19, Mount Washington, NH.

The next step in self-sufficiency in the mountains. The Level 2 Course develops a more complete understanding of snowpack development and metamorphism. It provides essential knowledge of snow observation that is fundamental to the development of a sound decision-making process and stability analysis. The course beginss with a short review of level one material and moves on to address snowpack formation, changes in the snowpack over time, development and effects of temperature gradients, hoar formation and human triggering and release factors. The course emphasizes the use of internationally standardized observation and recording methods. Learn proper techniques for conducting and interpreting snowpit observations, Rutschblock, compression and shear tests. This program is appropriate for people who have completed a basic avalanche course and have some personal experience with snowpacks. (32 hours).

Prerequisites: Students must have the ability to travel in avalanche terrain on either skis (able to ski in bound black diamonds without falling) or snowshoes. An AIARE Level 1 Course (strongly recommended) or equivalent training/experience is required. A winter of practical experience after the Level 1 course is beneficial before taking the Level 2 course but not required.

We are also available to deliver customized courses for organizations or individuals around New England and Eastern Canada.

A History of
Leading the way...

Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School is the preeminent leader in climbing instruction and guiding in Acadia and across Maine. We specialize in designing customized experiences or training for you, your family or your group.

Directed by internationally recognized IFMGA guide Jon Tierney who has been climbing in Acadia since 1982. Jon has over 30 years of local and worldwide experience. The IFMGA requires full AMGA certification as a rock, alpine and ski mountaineering guide.

All AMGCS instructors are certified by either the AMGA or the PCIA and all guides have been trained or certified by the AMGA.

• Since 1994 •
AMGCS is one of 30 AMGA accredited programs in the US and was one of the earliest to achieve accreditation.

AMGCS is the only climbing school in Maine to remain continuously accredited by the AMGA for eighteen years - several years longer than any other local service. We have had one or more full time AMGA certified rock instructors or rock guides on staff each year since 1994 - sixteen years more than any other local school.

• Since 2007 •
AMGCS has the distinction of also being accredited to the highest standards of the Professional Climbing Instructors Association. The PCIA requires all staff to be individually trained and certified.

Experience the difference.
Reach your peak with Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School.




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