Avalanche Skills Training Level 1
If you are skiing in the backcountry, you need to take this course.
About the Course
Curriculum: The AST 1 curriculum, developed by Avalanche Canada, is the essential first step in developing your decision making framework for venturing into winter backcountry avalanche terrain. This 2-day course includes one day of classroom theory, and one day putting theory to practice in the field.
At the end of the course you will:
Be able to recognize and appropriately travel through avalanche terrain
Interpret the avalanche forecast
Know how to use rescue equipment and the basics of companion rescue
Understand factors that affect the snowpack
Have the prerequisite certificate for the Avalanche Level 1 Operations course
Prerequisites: You should be able to slowly get down a blue run at the ski hill at minimum. The group will ascend roughly 250 vertical meters over the course of the field day.
Instructors: Each course has a course leader and a practicum for the field day at minimum, and 8 participants per course (December 21-22 had a maximum of 10 participants as there will be 3 instructors). If you have the CAA Operations Level 1 course and are interested in a practicum/job opportunity, please email email@example.com
Location: Fernie BC
- December 14-15
- December 21-22
- December 28-29
- January 4-5
- January 7-8
- January 11-12
- January 18-19
- February 1-2
- February 8-9
- February 22-23
- March 7-8
- March 14-15
Course fee: $245 + 5% GST and includes two days of instruction, Avalanche Awareness book by Bruce Jamieson, Avaluator 2.0, and course certificate.
Day 1 - Classroom Day
Time: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Location: Park Place Lodge – Mt. Fernie Room (Second Level)
This is a typical classroom day format, except that this content intensive day will start you on your path to making life saving decisions in the winter backcountry terrain. Expect to be sitting for 8 hrs, taking notes, and engaging with the material.
In the morning we will discuss the avalanche phenomena and avalanche terrain. You will learn how to find, use, and interpret, the Avalanche Danger Scale and the Public Avalanche Bulletin. Time is also devoted to understanding human factors, and the major role they play in decision making. As we plan our field day, you will learn that travelling safely in avalanche terrain starts at home with trip planning. We will also study companion rescue theory and transceiver use.
We will have quick breaks throughout the day, but please bring your lunch as we will be watching a movie during lunch time. *Lunch is also available for purchase at the venue.
Please bring your transceiver to the class room day!
Day 2 - Field Day
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Location: Fernie Alpine Resort, meeting at the ticket office
*You must have a lift pass. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for questions regarding a discounted pass.
On day two we put into practice the theory we covered in the classroom. We start the morning with a meeting discussing the Public Avalanche Bulletin and any changes we may need to make to our trip plan. We will perform safety checks of our rescue gear and head up the mountain on the lifts. We use the lifts to gain elevation as quite often in December there is not enough snow in the valley bottom to run an avalanche course. We will travel out of the ski area boundary on our skis, however, travel will be limited as our goal is to cover material.
On the mountain you will make field observations, use your Avaluator to identify and manage avalanche terrain, lead the group through terrain, as well as practice transceiver use and companion rescue. There will be two rescue response scenarios, and we will finish the day with a contribution to the Mountain Information Network.
Required items: Please bring the following on Day 1, Classroom Session
Lunch & Snacks (You can order food from the restaurant at The Park Place Lodge)
Digital Avalanche Transceiver with Fresh Batteries: 3 Antenna type transceiver required, if you are unsure, send Mountain Addicts an email indicating the make and model.
Other useful items: Pen & Paper
Required Items: Please bring the following on Day 2, Field Day
Lift Ticket or Pass: Please contact Mountain Addicts if you require a single ride ticket.
Lunch & Water: thermos or flask 1-2L, hydration pack not recommended due to cold freezing the tube.
Digital Avalanche Transceiver
Avalanche Shovel: collapsible & metal.
Collapsible Avalanche Probe
Skis: ‘Alpine Touring with touring bindings’ or ‘Telemark’
Split Board: with split board skins. Please practice transitions from touring mode to riding mode at home before the field day.
Snowshoes: Minimum 25inch length is recommended
Ski Poles: recommended for all modes of travel
Climbing Skins ‘Stick-on type’ (only required if using skis or split boards)
Boots: appropriate for your mode of snow travel.
Day Pack: large enough for spare clothes, lunch, shovel and probe. 30 liter minimum size recommended.
Sunglasses and/or Ski Goggles
Optional Equipment: Not essential, but feel free to bring anyway
Chemical hand warmer & toe warmer packets
Snow Study Kit
Field Book & Pencil
The Guides Hut in downtown Fernie have touring and safety equipment available for rental.
Field Day Clothing
During the field day there can be longer periods of inactivity in very cold temperatures. To maximize your learning experience, be sure to bring lots of extra clothing so that you can focus on the course and not the cold. Bring clothing of varying thicknesses that can be ‘layered’ to achieve comfort and versatility. Cotton clothing is not appropriate as it causes rapid heat loss when wet. You may have heard the expression “Cotton Kills”.
Below is a recommended clothing list:
Base Layers (top and bottom): A wool product, such as merino, or a synthetic product, such as Helly Hansen lifa™ or Patagonia Capilene™.
Warm Pants: preferably hardshell – waterproof.
Warm Mid-Layer Shirt, Sweater, or Fleece
Insulated Jacket or Vest: Down or Primaloft™ insulation is essential for staying warm while taking breaks or when the weather gets really cold. Don’t be afraid to double down! I use the Black Diamond Cold Forge Hoody.
Water Resistant Jacket: hard shell or soft shell. A hardshell set up is essential when the weather turns wet (ie. snowy!). Gore-Tex™, or similar material works great.
Socks: wool or synthetic, no cotton.
Wool or Fleece Hat that covers the ears
Warm Gloves, and an extra pair of thinner gloves or glove liner
Ski Helmet: recommended for skiers and riders
Please carefully review the terms and conditions prior to booking.
Course fee is $240 + 5% GST and includes two days of instruction, Avalanche Awareness book by Bruce Jamieson, Avaluator 2.0, and course certificate.