Avalanche Skills Training Archives -


Keep Your Avalanche Skills Sharp This Winter

Wednesday, 23rd January 2019  /  By Vince Shuley
avalanche safety AST1 Companion Rescue Skills Whistler

One of the first things that new winter backcountry travellers learn about avalanche education is that it's lifelong. Courses and certificates represent certain milestones, yes. But veteran avalanche forecasters are constantly combing weather reports, gathering snowpack data and retraining their rescue skills on a daily basis. As recreationists touring on weekends and days off, we can't expect to spend as much time with our heads buried in the snow as the guides and industry professionals.   However, avalanche knowledge and rescue skills are in the "use it or lose it" category, meaning you have to keep it fresh if you want to be on your game in the winter backcou...

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Understanding Human Factors in Avalanche Safety

Friday, 26th October 2018  /  By Vince Shuley
human factor avalanche

Why do so many people with avalanche training end up triggering slides more than a few times in their backcountry careers? It's one of the most perplexing conundrums of avalanche safety, one that boils down to psychology rather than skill or knowledge. Avalanche researchers have termed this effect collectively as "human factors."[caption id="attachment_5556" align="alignnone" width="710"] Groups of humans often unknowingly let psychology influence their decisions.[/caption] What exactly are human factors? The human factor can be largely attributed to heuristics — the process of gaining knowledge through intelligent guesswork, using previous experiences. Heuristics a...

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Avalanche Awareness Days 2018

Wednesday, 17th January 2018  /  By Vince Shuley
Avalanche awareness days Whistler Rockies

Avalanche Canada's annual Avalanche Awareness Days are back for 2018! This series of events take place at ski resorts across Canada to promote safety and knowledge in the winter backcountry. As an avalanche educator and guiding outfitter, Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures will again be participating both in Whistler and the Rockies this year. Here's a list of events going on this weekend.Kananaskis Country, AB - January 21 For those of you residing in Banff, Canmore, Calgary or surrounding areas, Alberta Parks is organizing a free event at Burstall Pass Day Use Area in Kananaskis Country on Sunday, January 21 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. MSAA guides will be on ha...

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Preventing Avalanche Transceiver Interference

Tuesday, 19th December 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
avalanche transceiver interference

The amount of consumer electronics carried by skiers and snowboarders on a daily basis has increased significantly in recent years. Smartphones, GoPros, cameras and GPS tracking devices all have their place, but when setting foot into the backcountry it's the most important piece of electronics - the avalanche transceiver - that needs to do its job in order to keep you alive. All the other pieces of technology can cause avalanche transceiver interference affecting your beacon's signal and search capability. This article goes into a bit more detail, but if you need a quick rule to follow, store your items at least 20cm away from your transceiver when transmitting and about...

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Cornice Hazards: What you need to know

Monday, 24th April 2017  /  By Vince Shuley
cornice hazards

One of the recurring themes in British Columbian backcountry advisories this season is cornices. These aesthetic but often hazardous snow structures are formed by wind drifting snow onto the downwind side of an obstacle, such as a ridgeline or precipice. Their size can range from windlips a few feet high to the size of small houses, sometimes even larger. Cornices present a hazard for a few reasons; they can be hard to identify from the top of a ridge, they can be very sensitive to triggers such as an explosive (or even the weight of a skier) and the weight of a collapsing cornice can trigger a sizable avalanche. To help keep your backcountry spidey senses tingling, here'...

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Making Sense of the January 11 Viral Avalanche Video

Thursday, 12th January 2017  /  By Vince Shuley

By now you’ve probably seen the viral avalanche video of Australian Tom Oye’s avalanche in Chocolate Bowl in the Brandywine area south of Whistler on January 11. The video not only received tens of thousands shares and millions of views, but also made news headlines on Australian television. It serves as a stark reminder that avalanches can occur when the danger rating is forecasted at the “Moderate” level. There’s a lot of questions left unanswered on why this avalanche occurred, so Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures owner and lead guide Eric Dumerac (IFMGA mountain guide, CAA professional member) has weighed in with an analysis on what happened, why it h...

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AST 2 Avalanche Course – Higher Learning

Thursday, 28th January 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
AST 2 avalanche course Whistler

Why take the AST 2? One of the most common misconceptions with avalanche education is that a course (such as the AST 1) leads to the candidate becoming "certified" for winter backcountry travel. As any ski guide will attest, all avalanche training is part of ongoing education. That applies whether you're a first-year backcountry rookie in Whistler or a ski guide in Revelstoke with more than 15 years experience. After a season or two of gaining experience and awareness of avalanche terrain, the next step for recreationists is investing in the four-day AST 2 course.[caption id="attachment_2832" align="alignnone" width="710"] When it comes to avalanches, prevention is bett...

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Avalanche Awareness Days 2016

Tuesday, 12th January 2016  /  By Vince Shuley
Avalanche Awareness Days 2016

This weekend (January 16-17) marks Avalanche Canada's annual Avalanche Awareness Days, a series of events at ski resorts across Canada to promote safety in the backcountry. As guides and avalanche educators ourselves, Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures will be participating both in Whistler and the Rockies this year. Here's a list of events going on this weekend. Burstall Pass Day Use Area, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, AB (January 17) For those of you in Banff, Canmore, Calgary or surrounding areas, Alberta Parks is organizing an information session at Burstall Pass Day Use Area in Kananaskis Country on Sunday, January 17 from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. MSA guide Br...

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AST1 & Backcountry Skiing Discounts

Tuesday, 24th November 2015  /  By eric dumerac
AST 1 Field Day Canadian Rockies

Welcome winter, 2015/2016 We've well and truly said goodbye to summer here at Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures, and we couldn't be more excited to welcome in the winter. It's time to dust off the skis and touring gear, for another season of winter adventures!Over the last few weeks we have been busy putting together our course outlines and dates for Avalanche Skills Training (in Whistler/Squamish, and Banff/Canmore), Ski Mountaineering & Ice Climbing across Canada.Whether you are based in the Whistler/Squamish area, or in Banff/Canmore, there are many ways you can make sure you tick off some of those winter 'bucket list' objectives you've been planning for...

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