AST 1 Course / Avalanche Training / Avalanche Courses // Vancouver

AST 1 Snowshoe – Vancouver

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Snowshoeing Powder Snow


  • Cost:
  • $269

Location: Vancouver/Squamish  Duration: 2 Days  Fitness: Average  Ability: Introductory  

This introductory avalanche skills course is designed for snowshoers, hikers, and ice climbers who want to develop the skills for safe travel in backcountry terrain where avalanche hazard exists. One theory day in the classroom introduces you to the course content and one field day outdoors lets you practice hands-on. Enjoy your adventures more with this critical safety knowledge. All courses are lead by experienced, highly trained guides.

Other options: AST 1 course in Whistler or Private AST 1 Course

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Course Information

This introductory avalanche skills course is specifically designed for snowshoers, cross-country skiers, hikers and ice climbers. If you venture into terrain where avalanche risk may be present, this course is for you.

Our two-day AST 1 course provides avalanche skills training which includes avalanche phenomenon, trip planning, the principles of safe travel in the backcountry avalanche rescue and much more.

*All Courses subject to a minimum number of participants. 48 hour notice will be given if minimum number has not been reached.

Course includes:

  • 2 day AST 1 Course with certified instructors
  • AST 1 Certificate
  • Avalanche Canada Accident Prevention Booklet
  • Avalanche Canada Avaluator Slope Assessment Field Card
  • Companion Rescue Field Card
  • 30-minute Pre-Course Interactive Lesson and Video

This course complies with  Avalanche Canada’s AST 1 course curriculum guidelines and after successful completion, you will be awarded an official AST 1 certificate of completion.


Day 1

Classroom Session

  • Meet at prearranged classroom location
  • Meet and greet, sign waivers, course briefing, equipment check
  • Pre-Course Lesson & Video review

Part I: Introductions & Pre-Course Quiz

  • Lesson 1

Part II: Avalanche Phenomenon Power Point

  • Lessons 2 – 95
  • Lunch break at around noon

Part III: Avalanche Travel Equipment & Companion Rescue Clinic

  • Lessons 96 – 100

Part IV: Avalanche Bulletin/Avaluator 2 & Pre-Trip Planning Session

  • Lessons 101 – 105
    End of day: 16:30

Debrief. Homework, Handouts & Resources List

Day 2

Field Session

  • Meet at pre-arranged location.
  • Guides meeting. Discuss current conditions, weather, gear check. Course briefing.
  • Head to field sessions location
  • Field Sessions 1 – 6
  • Lunch break at around noon
  • End of day: Course Debrief. Discuss next steps.

We are happy to help source any gear you need for your course.

Avalanche Safety Kit is not included (transceiver, shovel, probe) however we can arrange avalanche kit rentals.

Classroom Day: Just bring yourself, lunch, pens, and paper. A laptop is optional.


  • Field Day: Dress appropriately for the conditions.
  • Down or synthetic “puffy” insulated jacket
  • Insulating top and bottom under layers and socks
  • Mid layer fleece top
  • Weatherproof shell jacket and pants
  • Warm hat and balaclava
  • 2 pairs of gloves, mittens (optional)
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen.


  • Snowshoes & Poles (Can be rented through MSAA for $15)
  • Avalanche Safety Kit (Can be rented through MSAA for $15)
  • Backpack-25-35 Litres
  • Helmet
  • Write in the rain book and mechanical pencil (optional)
  • First Aid Kit with blister kit
  • Map, compass, GPS (all optional)
  • Feel free to bring your own Avalanche Safety Kit to gain familiarity with it

*Lunch, snacks, and water
*Thermos (optional)

1 Interactive Pre-Course Lesson & Video- 30 min*

*A link to our 30 minute Pre-Course Lessons and video will be provided in your logistics package after course registration.

2 The indoor course

  • Part I: Introductions & Pre-Course Quiz
  • Part II: Avalanche Phenomenon Power Point
  • Part III: Avalanche Travel Equipment & Companion Rescue Clinic
  • Part IV: Avalanche Bulletin/Avaluator 2 & Pre-Trip Planning Session

Part I: Introductions & Pre-Course Quiz

  • Lesson 1: Pre-course quiz

Part II: Avalanche Phenomenon Power Point

  • Lessons 2-20: Snowpack: Crystals & Layers
  • Snow Crystal types
  • Weak layers
  • Interactive Animation: Snow crystal metamorphosis/re-crystallization/Temperature Gradient
  • Persistent weak layers
  • Lessons 21-42: Terrain:
  • Avalanche Phenomenon
  • Avalanche Terrain: Slope Incline, Anchor Density, Terrain Shape
  • Avalanche Path & Slope Recognition
  • Start Zones
  • Alpine, Treeline & Below Treeline Terrain
  • Avalanche Types
  • Avalanche Triggers
  • Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale
  • Lessons 43-64: Environmental Factors in Avalanche Formation Terrain
  • Slope Aspects: North, South, East, West
  • Elevations: Alpine, Treeline, Below Treeline
  • Load on a slope
  • Sun & Solar Radiation
  • Temperature
  • Wind
  • Snowpack Variability
  • Lessons  65-83: Avalanche Hazard Mitigation
  • Safe Terrain Selection
  • Snowpack Tests
  • Strategic Approach
  • Lessons 84-92: Avalanche Danger Resources
  • Avalanche Danger Scale
  • Avalanche Bulletin
  • Weather Resources
  • Conditions Resources
  • Other important resources
  • Lessons 93 – 95: Human Factors
  • Human Factors
  • Case Study

Part III: Avalanche Travel Equipment & Companion Rescue Clinic

  • Lesson 96-100: Equipment and Companion Rescue Technique Familiarization
  • Transceivers: Use and Demo
  • Companion Rescue Training: Using our new proprietary CTM (Configurable Training Mat)
  • Avalanche Probe
  • Avalanche Shovel
  • Avalanche Air Bag and Backcountry Ski/Freeride  backpack

Part IV: Avalanche Bulletin/Avaluator 2 & Pre-Trip Planning Session

  • Lesson 100-104: Pre-Trip Planning
  • CAC Avaluator Trip Planner
  • Trip Planner Form
  • Proprietary Online Trip Planner Tool & Resources
  • Next Days Plan
  • Lesson 105: Decision Making Competence

3 The outdoor course

  • Field Session 1: Trailhead procedures
  • Equipment Check
  • Signal Check
  • Quick Intro to Backcountry Equipment Use
  • Field Session 2: Companion Rescue:
  • Avalanche Incident Scene Assessment
  • Rescue Organization
  • Avalanche Transceiver Coarse Search
  • Avalanche Transceiver Fine Search
  • Pinpointing with Avalanche Probe
  • Conveyor Belt Digging Technique
  • Companion Rescue Practice
  • Companion Rescue Test
  • Field Session 3:  Travel in avalanche terrain
  • Situational Awareness
  • Students take turns behind the instructor noting changes in terrain, conditions, weather and avalanche indicators
  • Conservative Terrain Selection & Track setting
  • Consider the current avalanche problems: What, When, Where, What is the trigger, How big
  •  Field Session 4: Snowpack and/or avalanche observations
  • Snowpack layers
  • Layers of Concern
  • Using Snow Study Kit
  • Noting Red Flag/Class ‘A’ Indicators
  • Avalanches, Wumphing, Shooting Cracks
  • Field Session 5: Snowpack tests
  • Compression Test, Shovel Sheer Test, Rutschblock, Hand Sheer Test
  • Find the layers of concern, test and discuss the hazard they pose
  • ATES scale (simple, challenging, complex)
  • Slope Assessment; use Avaluator 2 Slope Assessment
  • Avalanche types and sizes Common triggers
  • Field Session 6: Descent in avalanche terrain
  • Mitigation techniques: Avoidance, Conservative Approach, Re-grouping


Transportation: Ensure you have reliable transportation to and from meeting locations.

Lift Tickets: Lift tickets are not included but can be purchased through MSAA.

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

Please note: All Courses subject to a minimum number of participants. 48 hour notice will be given if minimum number has not been reached.

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