533434_10150972622547648_1907521258_n To honor George and to reduce the steadily growing avalanche fatality rate in Colorado to zero we will annually provide scholarships of up to $300 (based of course cost) for A3 approved Level 1 avalanche education courses including AIARE or any other A3 Level 1 avalanche education courses for backcountry enthusiasts who ski, snowboard, split-board, snowshoe, or climb in Colorado or Utah.

The George Dirth Memorial Scholarship will contribute a number of scholarships dependent on the funds raised. Scholarships awarded in past years went to people who had awesome ways to give back to the back country community, such as, volunteering for Search and Rescue, planning on putting together a back country medical course to be tagged onto AIARE courses, working with deaf backcountry travelers to help them be safer. Scholarships are prioritized based on the give-back.

Our goal for the 2023/24 ski season is to sponsor up to $9600 in partial scholarships for up to 32 scholarships of up to $300 for A3 approved Level 1 avalanche education courses like AIARE for people who go backcountry on skis, snowboards, or splitboards in Colorado or Utah. Scholarships may be applied to any of the Colorado or Utah avalanche education providers who give the A3 certified courses. Partial scholarships require a commitment from the student for a portion of the program tuition. All scholarships will be reimbursed to the student after we receive a copy of their AIARE or A3 certificate confirming completion of the course. Please provide the name and contact information of the provider of your choice. Recipients must use the scholarship during the 2023/24 season or the scholarship will revert to the fund for distribution the next year.

Goal vs Actual
  • Goal for 2023/24 is $9600 in scholarships (32 scholarships)
  • Goal for 2022/23 was $8000 in scholarships (we awarded 13 scholarships, 9 of which took advantage of the award). We paid out $2068.
  • Goal for 2021/22 was $8000 in scholarships (we awarded 13 scholarships, 7 of which took advantage of the award). We paid out $1750.
  • Goal for 2020/21 was $6000 in scholarships (we awarded 25 scholarships, 17 of which took advantage of the award). We paid out $6040.
  • Goal for 2019/20 was $3000 in scholarships (we awarded 13 scholarships, 9 of which took advantage of the award. Usually the unused scholarship funds revert to the general fund but given the issues this past winter with COVID-19 and everything shutting down the remainder of the season we have opted to allow people to use the scholarships for next year (2020-21)).
  • Goal for 2018/19 was $1500 (through the generosity of Friends of Berthoud Pass and Colorado Mountain School we were able to award $2400, $1950 of which was used)
  • Goal for 2017/18 was $1500 (of which we awarded all $1500 for the first time)
  • Goal for 2016/17 was $1500 (of which $1000 was used)
  • Goal for 2015/16 was $1500 (of which $450 was used)
  • Goal for 2014/15 was $1000 in scholarships (of which $850 was used)


Applications must be for an American Avalanche Association (A3) approved Level 1 class. A3 is the overarching association that certifies avalanche training programs in the US. This ensures quality, consistency, and current curriculum. In Colorado AIARE courses are the most prevalent but not the only courses with A3 approved curriculum. To find out which providers are approved by A3 go to https://avalanche.org/avalanche-courses/#course-providers. To find the AIARE approved providers go to https://avtraining.org/aiare-avalanche-course-providers/. Applicants MUST submit an application including ALL required elements to aiarescholarship@gmail.com. Incomplete applications may be rejected or recipient may only receive a portion of the full scholarship amount. The successful applicant will submit either a short (less than 5 minutes) video or an essay (no more than 1000 words) detailing:

  • The course provider who presents an American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) or America Avalanche Association (A3) Level 1 course,  course dates, and course cost, this is important information because we may be able to provide you with a gift certificate donated by the provider to cover the scholarship part of the course.
  • A brief candidate resume/bio describing specifically why you need this education and what you will do with it. Essentially, scholarship candidates must explain why they should receive a scholarship.
  • How you will give back to the backcountry community to advance avalanche awareness, safety and education; applicants who will use the training to either promote further avalanche education or through generating funds to allow continuing the scholarship program will be given favor. Suggestions for give back opportunities are listed below.
  • What type of activity do you do in the backcountry.
  • Why you need help to afford this education.
  • Applicants must have the equipment needed for the course as outlined on the AIARE or AAA required equipment list.

Applications will be processed as they are received, providing they meet the application requirements listed above. Applications for the 2023/24 season that are received prior to December 31, 2023 will have priority.

Please consider using one of our sponsors.

  • Help with a fund raising event for the scholarship fund planned for by the George Dirth Memorial Scholarship Fund. This can be as simple as sharing any fundraisers we have posted.
  • Get your favorite equipment store to sponsor a scholarship (it is tax deductible). Sponsors of a full scholarship (value of $250 or more) get a link on the George Dirth Memorial Scholarship Fund Sponsors webpage.
  • Get 10, 20, 30... people to donate $10, $20, $30... to the George Dirth Memorial Scholarship Fund. Every little bit adds up. By helping others to get avalanche education and training you may be saving your own life.
  • Get matching funds from your employer for donations you have secured. The George Dirth Memorial Scholarship Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization so all donations are tax deductible.
  • If your parents are greatful you received a scholarship ask them to make a donation (http://avtraining.org/donate/) to help those you may be backcountry with to save your life.
  • Make an avalanche safety video and post on backcountry sites.
  • Teach a class at a local school to educate kids about the risks.
  • Help with classes through FOBP or other entities giving avalanche awareness classes.
Please let us know what you have done to further the level of avalanche education in the backcountry. This effort is not self sustaining, we need donated funds to continue to keep you safe in the backcountry through education. Remember you can save someone else but others need to be educated to be able to save you. Don't let the past temporary decline in fatalities lull you into complaisance, there are increasing numbers of people and therefore uneducated people out in the backcountry every year and the 2020/21 season had the most fatalities on record. Get educated and help to educate others so we achieve the goal of zero avalanche fatalities.