HOW LONG HAS CWMS BEEN TEACHING AVI COURSES?
35 years ago we started teaching Avalanche Safety training courses for skiers, ice climbers and snowboarders, with our first course offered in 1982. Since that time we have delivered Avalanche Safety courses to many thousands of skiers, boarders and climbers.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR AST-1 PLUS AND AST-1 COURSES?
Both courses exceed the Avalanche Canada standard for AST-1 courses and cover the same content. The main difference is location, amount of practice time and course structure.The Vancouver-based AST-1 PLUS course has a separate evening session in advance of the field sessions in order to cover much of the theory. This allows students to gather this info a few days in advance of the field session.
Field sessions are split between the North Shore mountains and Whistler/Blackcomb, allowing students to experience two completely separate geographical regions and snowpacks. The Mount Seymour and Whistler-based AST-1 courses have the classroom sessions incorporated into the Saturday and Sunday. This allows students to take the course all in one weekend, but the days are longer and there is slightly less time to practice new skills. Day-2 are full day field sessions held in the backcountry behind Seymour Ski Area or behind Whistler/Blackcomb ski areas.
HOW QUICKLY DO YOUR COURSES BOOK UP?
Our Avalanche courses are generally booked up to one month in advance. If you know the dates that you want to book, please contact us as soon as you can by applying online at the Online Registration page for each course.
WHO ARE YOUR COURSE INSTRUCTORS?
All of our Instructors are CAA Active Members with at least a Level 1 Industry Training Certification through Avalanche Canada and who have been teaching regularly for CWMS for many years. Our program is directly supervised by Brian Jones, a Professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) with Level 2 certification. Brian is also a fully certified ACMG Mountain Guide and has been teaching Avalanche Safety courses since 1986. Additionally, all instructors take part in our own Instructor training sessions every season to ensure that every CWMS Instructor is teaching our courses to the same exacting standards.
For more details please visit our Instructors page.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A CWMS AST-1 TRAINING COURSE?
Our Recreational Level AST-1 courses include:
- Instruction by professional Avalanche Safety Educators and CAA Active or Professional Members (Max. 1:8 ratio)
- Backcountry Avalanche Safety Manual designed exclusively for Avalanche Safety Training Courses
- “Avaluator” package for decision-making support
- Course materials are available for pick up in advance of course, allowing for full learning potential
- Field training in one of 3 separate geographical locations (Mt Seymour; Whistler Backcountry; or, Blackcomb Backcountry
- Industry recognized Certificate of Completion issued by Avalanche Canada
- Ongoing access to free Canada West Mountain School Avalanche Safety consultation
- Program delivery and content developed for CWMS by CAA Professional Members
- All courses directly supervised by Level 2 certified Professional Member of the CAA
Avalanche Safety Gear Rentals are also available for all AST courses, please confirm at time of booking for details.
WHERE ARE YOUR FIELD SESSIONS HELD?
For our Vancouver-based AST-1 PLUS courses the first field day session is held in the alpine backcountry area behind Mount Seymour, while the 2nd field day is held in the backcountry alpine regions of Whistler or Blackcomb mountains.
Our Mt. Seymour-based AST-1 courses are held in the alpine backcountry area behind Mount Seymour.
Our Whistler-based AST-1 courses have the field sessions in both the regions behind Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
Field sessions for the Snowshoe courses are held on Mount Seymour and in the backcountry regions of the Coquihalla, or in the Diamond Head region of Garibaldi Park.
HOW WELL DO I NEED TO BE ABLE TO SKI/BOARD FOR THE AST-1?
Our AST-1 courses all include at least one day of backcountry skiing on Seymour, Whistler or Blackcomb (except the snowshoeing course). Participants should be able to ski well on un-groomed terrain at a “Blue” level with either Telemark or Alpine Touring (AT) skis, or on a snowboard. Please avoid using the Avalanche courses as your first day of learning Telemark skiing, even if you are an expert Alpine skier already.
WHO OVERSEES AVALANCHE TRAINING IN CANADA?
Avalanche Canada oversees all Avalanche Safety training programs in Canada. Authorized course providers are recognized by Avalanche Canada and use Avalanche Canada materials and agree to adhere to specified standards.For full details on Avalanche Canada please visit their site at www.avalanche.ca.
QUESTIONS TO ASK AVALANCHE TRAINING PROVIDERS
We ensure that all AST courses at Canada West Mountain school are delivered to the highest possible standards. Should you be looking at other providers, here are a few simple questions that should be directed to any Avalanche Course provider:
Is their program recognized by Avalanche Canada?
If you are in doubt, check directly with Avalanche Canada.
Who teaches their courses?
If it is a larger agency find out who teaches the courses and what the Instructors experience is. While there are standards set by the CAA for course content, the delivery of that content is critical to ensure a quality learning experience and you want to be sure that the Course Instructor(s) are experienced.
Who has developed and supervises their program?
Check to find out who manages the training program and what their Instructional and field experience is. (Canada West programs are run by an ACMG Mountain Guide and Professional Member of the Canadian Avalanche Association).
Do Instructors receive training for Instructional techniques to help in teaching courses?
While all instructors with Canada West Mountain School receive direct training and ongoing support and supervision, there are no industry-required standards for ensuring that all instructors know how to teach courses well. Always find out what the instructors teaching experience is and if they receive any training for Instructional techniques.
What is included in the cost of a course?
As with any service, make sure you find out what you are getting up front. You may find out after the fact that you will have to pay extra for Avalanche Safety gear, lift access, course materials, etc. While this is not necessarily a concern, you may want to know about these costs in advance rather than be surprised after you have booked!(All Canada West AST programs have a full listing of what is included in the Program Cost details)
Also, if the course fee seems unusually cheap, you may want to question why. Remember, ultimately what you are paying for is the experience, training and professionalism of your Instructor combined with the backing and support of the agency they work for – don’t expect to get a high quality course and pay only a small amount.