AST-1 PLUS (Squamish)

The original Canada West Mountain School AST-1 PLUS program now delivered in Squamish! Our unique AST-1 PLUS course starts with an evening class session to cover the foundation of Avalanche Safety theory, followed by two field days in a different mountain regions for the most effective use of your time. Our AST-1 PLUS provides you with the most hands-on time of any AST-1 course. If you are looking for a thorough Avalanche Skills Training program, the Canada West AST-1 PLUS is the answer.

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Canada West Mountain School is an Authorized AST Provider


2019-2020 Season dates
Squamish AST-1 PLUS course includes an essential Theory Session held during an evening class session, prior to the weekend dates.

Pre Requisites:

Intermediate skiing/riding ability. No previous avalanche training required.

Avi Kit (2 day)
Lift Access (1-day)
  • Squamish AST-1 PLUS Course: $325. + GST
    (are you a Squamish local? Use coupon code "Squamish50" and save $50!)

    Included in all Canada West Mountain School AST-1 PLUS courses:

    • 2.5 days AST-1 course instruction:
      3-hour evening theory session conducted before field portions
      Day-1 practical field session in backcountry near Squamish
      Day-2 field session held in Whistler/Blackcomb alpine backcountry
    • AST-1 Certificate issued by Avalanche Canada
    • Avalanche Manual "Backcountry Avalanche Awareness"
    • Avaluator V.2 Manual and decision making card
    • Course student handouts and reference materials
    • Access to our "On-Course" Avalanche Safety Gear rentals
    • Use of Snow Science equipment
    • Ongoing free consultation services from Canada West Mountain School
    • 50% off future Avalanche Refresher courses with Canada West Mountain School

    Exclusive On-Course Avalanche Safety Equipment rentals:
    Transceiver, Shovel and Probe rentals are available through Canada West for $35. The Canada West "On-Course" Avi Kit rentals will be supplied directly to you on your course - skip the hassle of going to another shop to pick up or drop off rentals before the course! Rentals must be booked at time of AST Course Registration, add "Avi Kit" when registering. CWMS On-Course Avi Kit Rentals include Mammut Barryvox Transceiver, G3 Shovel and G3 Probe for both days of your course.

    Lift Access fees: (not applicable for students with existing lift passes)
    Lift-access is required on Day-2 on Whistler/Blackcomb. If you do not have a Whistler/Blackcomb pass already, passes are available for purchase at time of booking for $70 +gst, add "Lift Access" when Registering.

    NOTE on weather and snow conditions:
    If the snow or weather conditions on Day-1 are not suitable for delivering a quality course in the backcountry near Squamish, the course will be held for both days on Whistler/Blackcomb. In this event 2 days of lift access are required for Whistler/Blackcomb.

    Please click here for our Cancellation and Transfer Policy

  • Our Squamish AST-1 PLUS course includes an essential Theory Session held during a Tuesday evening class session, prior to the weekend dates. Please review the course dates below carefully to confirm date and location for the evening session.

    2019-2020 Dates for Squamish AST-1 PLUS:

    • Nov 23-24 field sessions; Tuesday Nov 19 evening class
    • Dec 7-8 field sessions; Tuesday Dec 3 evening class
    • Jan 18-19 field sessions; Tuesday Jan 14 evening class
    • Feb 7-8 field sessions; Tuesday Feb 3 evening class

  • 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 Ski/Snowboard
    Feb 20th (evening session); Feb 23-24, Field sessions
    Classroom Location and date: Valhalla Pure Outfitters, Squamish, BC, Feb 20th 6:30 pm
    Field Location: Diamond Head day-1; Whistler/Blackcomb day-2

    March 13th (evening class); Mar 16-17, Field sessions
    Classroom Location and date: Valhalla Pure Outfitters, Squamish, BC, Feb Mar 13th 6:30 pm
    Field Location: Diamond Head day-1; Whistler/Blackcomb day-2

    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.

  • 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 start at 6:30 PM. 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 4:30pm, followed by a wrap-up theory session on Saturday afternoon/evening, finishing around 6:30.

    Day-2 will be a full field session ending at 4:30 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!

  • Avalanche Skills Course Gear List: Please review this gear list in advance of your AST-1 Plus course to ensure you are properly prepared - Canada West Mountain School Avalanche Course Gear List

    Transceiver, Shovel and Probe are required for each person for both days of the course
    Canada West Mountain School maintains the largest rental inventory of avalanche safety equipment exclusively for our students. Our On-Course Avi Kit rentals include the Mammut Barryvox Transceiver, G3 Shovel and G3 Probe for both days of your course.

    Our exclusive On Course Avi Kit rentals will be supplied directly to you on your course - avoid the hassles of going to another shop to pick them up or drop them off! Rentals must be booked at time of AST Course Registration as they are often booked out by the time the course runs - just select "Avi Kit" when registering for each person.

    Additionally, everyone needs to be fully prepared for a day out in winter conditions, the course will be conducted in all weather conditions. Please review the Canada West Mountain School Avalanche Skills Course Gear List well before the course start date.

    Proper backcountry touring skis, bindings and climbing skins are required for both of the field session on Day-1 and on Day-2 only; 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?