AST-1 PLUS (Powell River)

The original Canada West Mountain School AST-1 PLUS program now delivered by Powell River local Avalanche Professional Jen McGuinness! Our unique AST-1 PLUS course uses two field days in a local mountain region for the most effective use of your time, providing you with the most hands-on time of any AST-1 course. If you are looking for a thorough Avalanche Skills Training program, AST-1 PLUS will give you the most time in the field.

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Canada West Mountain School is an Authorized AST Provider


AST-1 PLUS course includes an essential Theory Session held during an evening class session, prior to the weekend dates, unless otherwise noted.


AST-1 for mechanized users (ATV/snowmobilers)
Class theory session, Cranberry Hall:
Wednesday April 4th, 7pm - 10pm
Field session, Knuckleheads: April 7-8, 2018

AST-1 for Skiers and Split-boarders
Class theory session, Cranberry Hall:
Monday April 9th, 7pm - 10pm
Field session, Knuckleheads: April 14-15, 2018

Pre Requisites:

Intermediate skiing/riding ability. ATV and Snowmobile riders must be experienced riding in backcountry ungroomed conditions. No previous avalanche training required.

Avi Kit (2 day)
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  • AST-1 PLUS Course: $275. + GST
    Included in all Canada West Mountain School AST-1 PLUS courses:
    • 2.5 days AST-1 course instruction
    • AST-1 Certificate
    • Avalanche Manual "Backcountry Avalanche Awareness"
    • Avaluator V.2 Manual and decision making card
    • Course student handouts and reference materials
    • Use of Snow Science kit (thermometer, screen, loupe, etc)
    • Ongoing free consultation services from Canada West Mountain School
    • 50% off future Avalanche Refresher courses with Canada West Mountain School
    Avalanche Safety Equipment rentals:
    $25. (optional, Avi gear can be supplied by student)
    CWMS Rentals Include: Transceiver, G3 Shovel and G3 Probe for both days of course

    Please click here for our Cancellation and Transfer Policy

  • All course dates include an essential evening Theory Session held during an evening class session prior to the course field dates. This session is held from 7-10 pm


    AST-1 for mechanized users (ATV/snowmobilers)
    Class theory session, Cranberry Hall: Wednesday April 4th, 7pm - 10pm
    Field session, Knuckleheads: April 7-8, 2018

    AST-1 for Skiers and Split-boarders
    Class theory session, Cranberry Hall: Monday April 9th, 7pm - 10pm
    Field session, Knuckleheads: April 14-15, 2018

    All AST-1 PLUS courses are held based on current weather and snow conditions. Itineraries and locations for each field day may vary due to changing snow conditions, weather, or avalanche danger levels.

  • The AST-1 PLUS course is conducted in backcountry regions at various locations.

    Students on the Ski/Snowboard AST-1 must be comfortable skiing/riding in control on Blue runs in ungroomed conditions. At least Intermediate skiing/riding skills and above are recommended.

    Students on the AST-1 Mechanized for ATV and snowmobile riders must be comfortable riding in a variety of snow conditions on un-groomed trails.

  • The 2.5 day AST-1 PLUS Avalanche Skills course was pioneered by Canada West Mountain School in the 1980's and still proves to be the best combination of class theory and practical field training possible! This is our most comprehensive and popular AST-1 course.

    Our combination of using highly experienced CAA trained Instructors, two different days for field training and increased emphasis on technical snowpack and terrain observation and decision making skills ensures that you will be getting the best possible training available.

    The first classroom evening session is an engaging session of interactive learning, group sessions and multi-media presentations. Both of the field sessions emphasize "hands-on" practical learning in the field working on snowpack, terrain, travel and rescue skills. With 2 days of field training, ample time is available to practice core skills.

  • AST-1 for mechanized users (ATV/snowmobilers) Class theory session will be held at the Cranberry Hall on Wednesday April 4th, from 7pm - 10pm.

    AST-1 for Skiers and Split-boarders Class theory session will be held at the Cranberry Hall on Monday April 9th, from 7pm - 10pm.

    All field training portion will be held in the Knuckleheads Winter Recreation area. Many thanks to the KWRA -

  • The Powell River AST-1 PLUS course is taught by Jen McGuinness. A local Powell River resident, Jen is a Professional Member of the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) and has been teaching AST courses for Canada West Mountain school for over 10 seasons. All Instructors on our Avalanche courses are Active or Professional Members of the CAA (Canadian Avalanche Association) and hold Level I or Level II Professional Certification with the CAA. Additionally, Canada West Mountain School staff are dedicated educators who are experienced in teaching these skills and conducting well run, professional courses.

    All CWMS staff also attend regular Industry training and have advanced 1st aid training, and many of the Instructors in our Avalanche Training program are also professional Guides certified through the ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guides).

    Visit Guides and Instructors Page for complete details and background on each of our Guide Team.

  • The first evening class session will be on Thursday evening, starting at 7 PM, at the Powell River classroom (location TBA). At this class session you will also receive instructions for the specific meeting points for the first field day of your course.

    There will be a practical field training session on Saturday from 8am to 4pm up in the Knuckleheads area, followed by a wrap-up theory session on Saturday afternoon/evening, finishing around 6:30.

    Day-2 will be a full field session Knucklheads, ending at 4:00 pm.

    This course focuses on teaching practical methods of understanding, recognizing and avoiding avalanche hazards, including terrain evaluation, snowpack structure, weather, safe route finding and avalanche rescue techniques.

    Our 2.5 day format includes 7 hours of theory and 12 hours of practical fieldwork. Manuals are included in the course and form an integral part of the learning. Our AST-1 course content and materials have been developed over the past 30 years and are based on the nationally-recognized AST-1 curriculum developed by Avalanche Canada.

    Theory topics include:

    • avalanche hazard recognition
    • terminology
    • avalanche mechanics
    • mountain weather
    • snowpack structure
    • basic terrain evaluation
    • equipment requirements

    The initial theory session also will prepare you for the field sessions so that your time in the field is used most efficiently.

    Your field days are spent in the backcountry where you will have maximum time to focus on learning and practicing skills, including:

    • terrain evaluation
    • mountain hazard assessment
    • safe route finding techniques
    • snowpack analysis
    • snow testing techniques
    • transceiver searches
    • rescue fundamentals

    The final wrap up sessions are an important aspect of Canada West Mountain School programs, as this allows students an opportunity to "put all the pieces together" in a classroom session after the field sessions have finished.

    At the end of your course, you are encouraged to discuss with your instructor the content that has been covered, and to have the instructor assess your level of knowledge - we would prefer that you know your abilities now, rather than find out the hard way, later!

  • Gear List - Canada West Mountain School Avalanche Course Gear List

    For the Snowmobile-specific course, each participant is responsible for their own snow machine, and all associated standard safety gear required for safe operation in the backcountry.

    Everyone on all courses will require an Avalanche Safety kit (avalanche transceiver/beacon, collapsible avalanche shovel, and a probe). In addition, everyone needs to be fully prepared for a day out in winter conditions. Canada West Mountain School has Avalanche Safety Kits available for rent, please book this at time of registration as they are often booked out by the time the course runs.

    For the Skier/Snowboarders AST-1 course, proper backcountry touring skis and climbing skins are required for the field sessions on Day-1 and on Day-2; or, snowboard and snowshoe combo; or, a split-board and climbing skins.

  • Questions about Avalanche Skills Training 1 PLUS (AST-1+) course

    Do I need to bring special gear?

    What happens if the weather is not good?

    Where are the AST-1 courses conducted?

    How long are the days?