AST-1 PLUS (Squamish)

The original Canada West Mountain School AST-1 PLUS program designed for Squamish Locals! Our unique AST-1 PLUS course uses two different mountain regions for the most effective use of your time – 1 day on Diamond Head plus 1 day behind Whistler/Blackcomb – 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 on Thursday night prior to the weekend dates, unless otherwise noted.

Pre Requisites:

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

Avi Kit (2 day)
Lift Access (1-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

    Backcountry lift access fee
    $62. (not applicable for students with existing lift passes)
    Backcountry lift access for Whistler/Blackcomb Mountains is required for all students on the 2nd Field Day and is not included in the course fee. If both field sessions are held on Whistler/Blackcomb, 2 days of lift access will be required.

    Please click here for our Cancellation and Transfer Policy

  • All course dates include an essential evening Theory Session held on the Thursday night prior to the course field dates. This session is held from 7-10 pm, at Valhalla Pure in Squamish

    If you cannot attend the integral Thursday evening Theory Session held on the mid-week evenings, please consider taking one of our 2-day AST-1 courses on Seymour, or in Whistler. These 2-day AST-1 course do not include mid-week evening sessions.

    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 must be comfortable skiing/riding in control on Blue runs in ungroomed conditions. At least Intermediate skiing/riding skills and above are recommended.

  • 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 geographical regions for field training and increased emphasis on technical snowpack and terrain observation 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.

  • The first evening session will start at 7 PM, at the Squamish Valhalla Pure location, in Squamish Station next to Nesters, unless other arrangements are made at the time of registration. At this class session you will also receive instructions for the specific meeting points for the first field day of your course.

    Students are reminded to plan to arrive a few minutes early to the course sessions, to allow for traffic delays, poor road conditions, parking, etc. The field sessions will start promptly at the times indicated - latecomers will risk missing the field sessions as once the group has departed there are no options to join them in the field at a later time.

    Valhalla Pure, Squamish
    1200 Hunter Place (Squamish Station)

    The Day-1 field sessions are typically held in the backcountry of Red Heather/Diamond Head area, behind Mount Seymour, or on Whistler/Blackcomb. On Day-2, you will be accessing the backcountry adjacent to Whistler or Blackcomb mountains for the final portion of the course.

  • 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 Valhalla Pure Squamish Location, in Squamish Station next to Nesters. 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 7am to 4pm up at Red Heather area, followed by a wrap-up theory session back at Valhalla Pure on Saturday evening from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

    Day-2 will be a full field session in the alpine backcountry, behind Whistler/Blackcomb, 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

    You 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.

    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?