Avalanche Skills Training 1 (AST 1) - Whistler
Industry leading Avalanche Skills Training course that introduces the fundamentals critical to safe backcountry travel.
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.
Well regarded as Whistler’s leading avalanche skills educator, MSAA provides an exceptional Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 (AST 1) Course.
Business as usual just safer.
In accordance with leading subject matter experts & authorities we have compiled and developed a robust, dependable and safe method to provide the outstanding learning experience that MSAA is known for.
A full day in the classroom with our expert guides promotes discussion between students which is critical to avalanche learning progression. We then travel to true backcountry terrain to establish the requisite foundation and develop the critical skills necessary for safe backcountry travel in avalanche terrain.
Course design and refinement by IMFGA / ACMG Mountain Guides / CAA Operations Level II Professionals of extensive experience. MSAA, the area's longest established provider (since 1991), proudly maintains 5 Star – Trip Advisor, Hall of Fame status for avalanche courses, is a Founding Member and Sponsor of Avalanche Canada. This in-depth course meets and surpasses the Canadian Avalanche Centre requirements with additional MSAA curriculum.
The course begins with an online digital pre-course video and questionnaire. The theory portion of the course is a full day and held in a comfortable classroom. Here we will provide our carefully crafted curriculum with an engaging interactive multimedia presentation.
In Person: Our classroom location allows all students to maintain the required 2m physical distancing guidelines. The establishtment performs it's own cleaning before and after every meeting room use, and our instructors will also wipe down all tables during every break. We also require all students to wear a mask when inside the classroom as an extra precaution.
Online Course: We specifically designed our online AST course to address the ongoing pandemic, providing convenience for those with busy schedules, and those wishing to limit 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 true backcountry, world class terrain that is easily accessible in a timely manner. This serves to maximize the time our student’s spend to develop their skills as well as provide the best quality terrain for an optimal learning environment.
Snowboarders: For this course we require that all snowboarders use a splitboard. We do not allow people to use snowshoes for this course.
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 starting on the course theory. The day will include a short morning and afternoon break as well as a lunch break. The day will end with a debrief along with homework, some handouts and a resources list.
COVID-19: Our classroom location allows all students to maintain the required 2m physical distancing guidelines. The establishtment performs it's own cleaning before and after every meeting room use, and our instructors will also wipe down all tables during every break. We also require all students to wear a mask when inside the classroom as an extra precaution.
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 4:30pm 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 courses during the week & weekends all season long!
Evening sessions run Wed & Thur evening 6pm – 9pm & field day Sat 8:30am – 4:30pm
Book a Private Course and have a guide to yourself:
Foundation Backcountry Clinic
A “fast-track” clinic specifically designed to take one’s introductory skills to the next level!
Avalanche Skills Training 2
Our Avalanche Skills Training Level 2 course teaches managing and mitigating avalanche and mountain hazards.