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Whistler / Squamish Guides

Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 for Skiers & Riders



  • Cost:
  • $225

Location: Whistler/Blackcomb   Duration: 2 Days   Fitness: Average   Ability: Introductory   Prerequisites: Skiing/Boarding experience  

Our industry leading Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 Skiers & Snowboarders (AST1) course ensures participants acquire the fundamentals critical to safe backcountry travel. This includes pre-trip planning, backcountry equipment, snowpack and avalanche hazard assessment, terrain selection and avalanche rescue skills. The course is broken up into an indoor theory day and a backcountry field day.

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The following dates are available for this course.

We will post up more public dates if there is demand, so please let us know what dates work better for you.

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Course Information

Designed by IMFGA/ACMG certified Mountain Guides/CAA Operations Level II Professionals, our Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 is highly regarded in the industry. This course is tailored exclusively for skiers and snowboarders that wish to venture into the backcountry to learn about hazards and how to manage and/or mitigate them. Our student to guide ratio is 8:1 as this ensures maximum safety and learning!

If you wish to join us for an additional day of avalanche skills training, please check out our Avalanche Skills Training Max-Plus Course for a Plus Day!

Course includes:

  • 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
  • Free access to our online Avalanche Trip Planning Resource & Updates
  • Use of Snow Study Kit with Thermometer, Crystal Screen and Loupe
  • Online Resources

Day 1 – Meet at the pre-arranged location at 09:00am where we will cover theory in the classroom and end at 17:00pm.

Day 2 – Meet in front of Whistler Gondola at 08:00am and head into the field to apply what was learned the day before. We will end the day with a quick debrief at 17:00pm.

Classroom Day Equipment:

  • Lunch, snacks, and water
  • Pen, pencil, paper, laptop, and smartphone

Outdoor Day Equipment:

Clothing – 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/tuc and balaclava
  • 2 pairs of gloves, mittens (optional)
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen


    • Backpack-25-35 Litres
    • Alpine Touring skis/splitboard, skins, bindings*, and boots
    • Avalanche Safety Kit (transceiver, shovel, probe)*
    • Helmet
    • Poles
    • First Aid Kit with blister kit
    • Rite in the Rain notebook and writing utensil (all optional)
    • Map, compass, GPS (all optional)
    • Lunch, snacks, water, and thermos (optional)

*We provide Alpine Touring Gear (excluding boots) at $35/day + tax and Avalanche Safety Kit rentals at $15/day + tax


We are happy to help source any gear you need for your course. Advance Reservations are required for all rental gear and equipment.

If you wish to purchase your own Avalanche Safety Kit we can arrange this through our partnership with Backcountry Access for $340 + tax with the purchase of an AST 1 course!


  • Snowpack: Crystals & Layers
  • Terrain
  • 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


  • Trailhead Procedures
  • Companion Rescue
  • Avalanche Terrain Travel
  • Snowpack and/or Avalanche Observations
  • Snowpack Tests
  • Avalanche Terrain Descent

Access: Ensure you have reliable transportation to/from meeting locations. Backcountry Whistler/Blackcomb lift tickets are not included but can be purchased through MSAA at a reduced rate of $56 + tax.

Accommodation: If you require accommodation in Whistler/Blackcomb for the length of your course, please book in advance or let us know when you register and we will do our best to make the arrangements.

Food: For field days, pack plenty of fluids, high energy food, and snacks. A thermos with a hot drink is also a great idea.


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Important Information

We strongly recommend you purchase Trip Cancellation Insurance upon booking and Emergency Evacuation insurance.

Emergency Evacuation and Medical

This coverage provides you with emergency air rescue if required and full medical. Parks Canada provides free evacuation within the Parks and if you are a Canadian resident your medical will be covered by National Health.

We strongly recommend international visitors purchase this insurance. Emergency evacuation insurance is also compulsory for all our hut trips, as these typically take place outside of Parks Canada’s jurisdiction.

Trip Cancellation Insurance

To prepare for unforeseen circumstances we strongly recommend purchasing Trip Cancellation Insurance at the time of booking your trip. Trip Cancellation insurance covers many scenarios to reimburse you for cancelled trips outside of your control.

Our recommended insurance provider is Tugo.Com or call 1800 663 0399

All course prices are quoted in Canadian Dollars and are exclusive of a 5% Federal GST. Prices are subject to change.

Full payment is required at time of registration. Our preferred method of payment is by Mastercard or VISA through our online payment portal. We also accept Credit Card payment over the phone, bank transfer and cash.

Mountain Skills Academy takes mountain safety very seriously, however there is no way to completely mitigate risk in alpine environments. Prior to undertaking any of our courses or trips we require you to sign a waiver.

Mountain conditions are extremely unpredictable and can change at short notice. Our guides endeavor to undertake the routes and/or peaks that our clients desire, however our decisions will be impacted by conditions. Unfortunately we are not able to offer refunds if conditions are not suitable to undertake a particular route on the day you have booked. We will however make every effort to take you out for the best day possible given the conditions.

If conditions force us to cancel a course or trip we will do all we can to accommodate you at another date. If this isn’t possible we will offer a full refund.

Cancellation Policy for Via Ferrata, Glacier Walks and Glacier Hikes, Hiking Tours and Backcountry Hiking Day tours
– Within 24 hour cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition
– Outside of 24 hours: $25 penalty to reschedule. 30% of booking forfeited upon cancellation.

Cancellation Policy for Avalanche Skills Training 1
– Within 14 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition
– Outside of 14 days: $75 penalty to reschedule. 30% of booking forfeited upon cancellation.

Cancellation Policy for all other single day programs
– Within 30 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition
– Outside of 30 days: $75 penalty to reschedule. 30% of booking forfeited upon cancellation.

Cancellation Policy for multi day programs
– Within 90 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition
– Outside of 90 days: $100 penalty to reschedule. 30% of booking forfeited upon cancellation.

We reserve the right to decline rescheduling dates based on availability.

We strongly recommend you purchase Trip Cancellation Insurance prior to your booking. Please see the insurance tab for more details. Alternatively if you are able to find someone else to take your place please let us know as we are more than happy to transfer bookings.

Minors (under the age of 18 for our courses based in Alberta and 19 for those based in BC) and custodial groups (youths affiliated with an institution where the parents/legal guardian are not present on the trip) may register for certain trips and courses with a letter of consent from parents or legal guardian as well as must sign a waiver and have their parents or legal guardian sign a waiver. Further, we abide by the Parks Canada Custodial Group winter backcountry policy as outlined here.