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“AIARE 1 Course was awesome!”

Apex Mountain School
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Apex Mountain School is a full-service mountaineering adventure company located in Vail, Colorado. Rooted in the community and the Colorado climbing culture for 20+ years, Apex has developed a reputation for superior rock climbing and ice climbing experiences, backcountry skiing and splitboarding tours, mountaineering courses and trips, SOLO accredited wilderness medicine, AIARE avalanche education and ground-breaking corporate team-building programs. Our organization was founded by Scott Smith, a climber with more than 25 years of climbing experience and over 15 years commercial guiding experience. Scott has also trained under AMGA, and is certified as an AIARE avalanche educator. Our guides have completed more AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) courses and certifications, as well as AIARE certifications, than any other guide service in the area. Our experienced guiding staff is dedicated to providing the best possible experience for our guests by prioritizing your safety a
Reviewed April 4, 2018

Scott and Jill were an awesome team loaded with knowledge. They new how to convey their knowledge in a great class room session and field days. They made it an easy environment to learn and had detailed answers and explanations to all questions. Would highly recommend Scott for any course you can get with him, he is the man.

Thank Sschlegel9076
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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3 - 7 of 36 reviews

Reviewed March 20, 2018

I have gone through several different types of rescue and wilderness medicine trainings over the last decade plus, and the Avalanche Rescue course I took with Scott last week is deserves high rankings. The class size was small, and the instructor gave attention to detail, and all students. Thanks!

Thank Theresa S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 28, 2018

BACKGROUND: Wilderness First Responder. Advanced Wilderness Life Support Instructor. Multiple medical and non med certifications. Steep earth rescue, mountain medicine, cold weather medicine. Prior military with combat deployment.

There is a distinct difference between being talented and experienced in a particular subject, and being able to teach that subject. My experience at Apex Mountain School demonstrates that while their instructor cadre is without doubt talented and experienced in avalanche and backcountry travel, a large number of them are absolutely atrocious instructors.

- LACK OF ORGANIZATION. Instructors were unsure of who was presenting what powerpoint, to the point where they were discussing and flip flopping who was going to go next. Worse yet, one instructor clearly hadn't read the powerpoint he was presenting on, as each slide was as much of a surprise to him as it was to us.

- LACK OF FOCUS. Multiple references were made about "shredding gnar pow" and "mad pow disease", which the not-very-cheap avalanche course we paid for seemed to only get in the way of. The head instructor repeatedly asked if students wanted to "get some lines in", which was clearly at the opportunity-time-cost of our education. A lift ticket costs $85 bucks kids, if you want to hit the slopes, this is an extremely expensive and wasteful way to do that.

- LACK OF SITUATIONAL AWARENESS. Often would be caught rambling to himself and telling "I'm really cool" stories, delaying timeline objectives. His departure and return timelines would read, verbatim: "We'll leave by 9:10 for sure. If not that, then 9:15. Definitely by 9:30. But definitely no later than 10:00.". We ultimately made it back to return our rental gear with only 15 minutes to spare, and this is while we insisted on leaving early and the head instructor telling us "it's cool man, they'll wait for you", demonstrating a lack of respect for a rental shop staff's time as well. This whole debacle is almost a lesson in itself in poor trip planning and lack of coordination resulting in potential danger and threat to safety.

- LACK OF PROFESSIONALISM. The head instructor, while very nice, easy-going, and experienced, had painfully low teaching energy, could not read the non verbal cues in the room, and functionally muttered to himself as he went through websites and pit digging. Looking around, nearly everyone was eyes on the ground and spacing out. He would make and ask loaded statements and questions ("Isn't this the best course you've ever taken?" or alternatively "If this is a huge waste of your time please raise your hand."), which any novice instructor will tell you completely negates the grounds for any live-feedback or constructive criticism.

We switched instructors on one of the last days, who was a godsend and a purposefully engaged, focused, and dedicated teacher. He actually took us through a snowpit and some actual snow science while the other half of the group "shredded pow".

Avalanche education is not cheap, and there are a ton of options out here in Colorado. Don't let the pretty website fool you. Pick another company that is dedicated and focused on the students' education and not on their own skiing trip. This course was significantly below minimal expectations.

Unprofessional, poorly coordinated, expensive, and minimal learning from an education standpoint. An embarrassing demonstration in how to be really experienced in a complicated topic but have no idea how to properly teach it.

Thank echozero
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 22, 2018

The people at Apex Mountain School were amazing in sharing their knowledge of the backcountry. I took my AIAIRE Level 1 this past weekend with Scott and Mike and have nothing but positive things to say about the experience! Splitting up the course into classroom, field rescue, and a final backcountry tour over the three days made the information really stick. In addition, my own personal notes taken from the course will travel with me into the backcountry and beyond. Overall, the crew did an incredible job teaching how to assess the dangers as well as how to respond to an avalanche if needed!!

Thank Jessica K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed January 9, 2018

Took my AIARE Level one with these guys at the end of December and it was a great experience. Our instructors were Zack and Mike. They tag-teamed for the classroom day, then I had Zack for the field work. Both were knowledgeable in the classroom and Zack was excellent in the field, and brought a lot of real-world experience to the material. I highly recommend Apex for this class.

Thank Arthur W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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