Avalanche Skills Training 1 (AST 1) - Whistler
Learn avalanche skills training and the fundamental skills of winter backcountry travel with the industry-leading expert’s Mountain Skills Academy.
We are a proud ‘Contributor’ to Avalanche Canada and an approved Avalanche Skills Training course provider.
As a Founding Member and Sponsor of Avalanche Canada, MSAA has been teaching avalanche courses since 1991 and is the area's longest-running provider. Using the curriculum designed by Avalanche Canada, our highly experienced guides have tailored the course to give you the strongest foundation for your avalanche education.
The first day is held indoors in a classroom to facilitate effective theory instruction. The day begins with a discussion of the online pre-course video and questionnaire. Throughout the day there are also decision-making exercises and a navigation workshop. While in-person learning provides the easiest opportunity to interact with the guide and fellow students, we do offer the first day of the course online.
Online Course: We specifically designed our online AST course to provide convenience for those with busy schedules, and those wishing to continue limiting their exposure to others. In order to maintain the highest standard, we host two evening sessions on a professionally designed Zoom platform, enabling the critical live discussion between the students and the instructor.
Field Day: The practical portion of the course is held in easily accessible backcountry terrain. This serves to maximize the time our students spend developing their skills, as well as provides the best quality terrain for an optimal learning environment.
Snowboarders: To facilitate smooth integration with skiers we require that all snowboarders use a splitboard and not snowshoes.
Lift Ticket *Day 2 only: If you do NOT currently possess a valid Whistler Blackcomb lift ticket (Seasons Pass, Spirit Pass, Edge Card, Epic Pass, etc.), you may buy a Lift Ticket through our office at checkout.**All Courses subject to a minimum number of participants. 48 hour notice will be given if the minimum number has not been reached.
Day 1: Classroom portion - 9:00am - 5:00pm
Everyone will sign waivers and the guide will review the AST Pre-Test before moving on to theory using decision-making exercises and discussion. The day will include a short morning and afternoon break as well as a lunch break and will end with a debrief along with homework, some handouts and a resources list.
Parking: Please note that the nearest parking for this course is located at the Whistler Day LotsDay 2: Field Day - 8:30am - 4:30pm
The guide will lead a short briefing (discussing current conditions and weather) and have everyone perform a gear check. From there you will head up the mountain to apply the skills you learned on Day 1. The day will end at approximately 4:30 pm with a quick debrief and discussion of what steps you can take after your AST1.
If you require rentals we have teamed up with local rental companies to provide discounted rentals. Visit our rental page HERE for more information!
Day 1: (Classroom Day)
Day 2: (Field Day): Dress appropriately for the conditions.
- Weatherproof shell jacket and pants
- Down or synthetic insulated jacket
- Mid layer fleece top
- Insulating top and bottom under layers and socks
- Warm hat/toque and balaclava
- 2 pairs of gloves
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Lift Pass
- Backpack-25-35 Litres
- Alpine touring skis/splitboard, skins, bindings, and boots
- Avalanche Safety Kit (transceiver, shovel, probe)
- First Aid Kit with blister kit
- Rite in the Rain notebook and pencil (optional)
- Map, compass, GPS (optional)
- Lunch, snacks, and water
Day 1 (Classroom):
- Snowpack: Crystals & Layers
- Environmental Factors in Avalanche Formation Terrain
- Avalanche Hazard Mitigation
- Avalanche Danger Resources
- Human Factors
- Equipment and Companion Rescue Technique Familiarization
- Pre-Trip Planning & Avalanche Bulletin/Avaluator
- Decision Making Competence
Day 2 (Outdoor):
- Trailhead Procedures
- Companion Rescue
- Avalanche Terrain Travel
- Snowpack and/or Avalanche Observations
- Snowpack Tests
- Avalanche Terrain Descent
Click HERE for the full curriculum
- Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 Certificate (upon successful completion)
- Backcountry Avalanche Awareness Book
- Avaluator Booklet and Avaluator Slope Assessment Field Card
- Canadian Avalanche Association Mandatory Student Fee
- Companion Rescue Field Card
- Use of Snow Study Kit with Thermometer, Crystal Screen and Loupe
- 30-minute Pre-Course Interactive Lesson and Video
The important details:
Season: Nov – Apr
Duration: 2 Days (8:30am – 4:30pm)
Max Ratio: 8 Clients to 1 Guide
Prerequisites: Average Fitness & Intermediate Skier
Price: $279/per person | $1399/private (up to 6ppl + 2 additional cost)
We run classroom-based & online courses all season long!
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