Avalanche Training / AST 1 Course / Avalanche Courses // Whistler

AST 1 Snowshoe – Whistler

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AST 1 - Avalanche Skills Training Pit Digging Snowshoeing


  • Cost:
  • $279

Location: Whistler   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 Vancouver or Private AST 1 Course

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The following dates are available for this course.

If you would like different dates, or to book a private course, please contact us.

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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
  • Avalanche Safety Kit
  • 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.

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

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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Important Information

We strongly recommend you purchase insurance for Trip Cancellation, Emergency Evacuation and Adventure Sports Coverage (some backcountry adventures are excluded from coverage).

Emergency Evacuation and Medical Insurance

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 your provincial health plan (except ambulance/air ambulance transport). We strongly recommend international visitors purchase this insurance.

Emergency evacuation insurance is 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.

Learn about training courses at the academy: 

Our recommended insurance provider is Tugo.Com who can be reached via the following:

All prices are quoted in Canadian dollars and are exclusive of a 5% tax (GST). Prices are subject to change. Guide gratuities are not included in fees.

Our preferred method of payment is by Mastercard or VISA. We also accept bank e-transfers and cash.

• For 1-2 day adventures/courses booking must be paid in full.
• For longer adventures/courses a deposit of 50% is required at the time of booking.
• The remaining balance is due 30 days before the start date.
• Bookings made less than 30 days before adventure/course must be paid in full.

Next day bookings are taken up until 5pm the day before any tour or course. *Subject to guide availability

Full Terms & Conditions

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.

Applicable to all tours and courses*: 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. We reserve the right to decline rescheduling dates based on availability.  *Does not apply to first aid courses.

Late Arrival Policy

Guests arriving more than 15 minutes late for an activity forfeit 100% of the tour price. Tours leave promptly; it is recommended to arrive 15 minutes early to sort out gear and sign waivers.

Adventures Cancellation Policy

Half Day and Full Day Tours

  • With less than 48 hours of the tour start time:  Cancellation will result in a 100% forfeit of tour price, no rescheduling.
  • With more than 48 hours notice:  We will reschedule or refund with no penalty.
Multi Day Programs
  • 2 Day Programs: Within 10 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition, Outside of 10 days: $25 penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.
  • 3+ Day Programs: 30 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition, Outside of 30 days: $75 penalty to reschedule or full refund.
  • Customized Trips: 30 days cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition, Outside of 30 days: $75penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.

**On all multi day trips pre-arranged add-ons are non-refundable (food, accommodation, etc).

Courses Cancellation Policy

1-2 Day Courses

  • Within 10 days of the course date: Cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition
  • Outside of 10 days: $75 penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.

3+ Day Courses

  • Within 30 days of the course date: Cancellation notice will result in a 100% forfeit of tuition
  • Outside of 30 days: $75 penalty to reschedule per booking or full refund.

**If you are able to find someone else to take your place on a course, please let us know as we are more than happy to transfer bookings.

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

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