AST-1 PLUS (N. Van & Whistler)
Our 2.5 day Vancouver-based AST-1 PLUS course sets the standard for AST programs. We pioneered our original PLUS program over 25 years ago and continue to improve the program with input from ACMG Ski Guides, Professional Avalanche Instructors and feedback from 1,000’s of students. Our unique approach uses two different mountain regions for the most effective use of your time – 1 day on Seymour plus 1 day behind Whistler/Blackcomb – with the most hands-on time of any AST-1 course. For a thorough Avalanche Skills Training program, AST-1 PLUS provides the most time in the field.
Vancouver & Whistler AST-1 PLUS Course: $325. + GST
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 Mount Seymour backcountry
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! 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 conditions on Mount Seymour are not suitable for delivering a quality course for Day-1, the course will be held for both days on Whistler/Blackcomb. In this event 2 days of lift access are required for Whistler/Blackcomb.
CANCELLATIONS and TRANSFERS
Please click here for our Cancellation and Transfer Policy
- 2.5 days AST-1 course instruction:
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, in the CWMS training room at 240-400 Brooksbank Ave, North Vancouver. Please re-confirm the evening date and location when you register, as some AST-1 dates may have a different evening class session time and location scheduled.
If you cannot attend the integral Thursday evening Theory Session held on the mid-week evening in N Vancouver, please consider taking one of our 2-day AST-1 Classic courses - (AST-1 Classic Mt Seymour) , or in Whistler - (AST-1 Classic Whistler). The AST-1 Classic courses 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.
- Students must be very comfortable skiing/riding in control on Blue runs in ungroomed conditions. Strong Intermediate skiing/riding skills and above are recommended. The AST-1 PLUS course is conducted in the backcountry regions adjacent to Mount Seymour on day-1; and, Blackcomb or Whistler ski area on Day-2.
- The 2.5 day AST-1 PLUS Avalanche Skills course was developed 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, in our Classroom located at #240-400 Brooksbank Ave, North Vancouver (1 block up from MEC), 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.Canada West Mountain School main office & classroom
240-400 Brooksbank Ave, North Vancouver (1 block up from MEC)
The Day-1 field sessions are typically held in the backcountry behind Mount Seymour, unless otherwise noted. On Day-2, you will be accessing the backcountry adjacent to Whistler or Blackcomb mountains for the final portion of the course.
If weather or snowpack conditions are not suitable to conduct the course on one of these areas, occasionally alternate locations may be used such as Diamond Head near Squamish, or the Coquihalla Pass near Hope.
If weather conditions or snowpack on Seymour are not suitable for conducting the field session on Day-1, then both field days of the course will alternate between Whistler and Blackcomb. In this event, lift access will be required for both field days.
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.
- IMPORTANT - The AST-1 PLUS courses have evening sessions from 7 to 10 pm on the Thursday night prior to the weekend field dates!
The evening class sessions all start at 7 PM, in our Classroom located at #240-400 Brooksbank Ave, North Vancouver (Vancouver-based course only), 1 block up from MEC, 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 10-15 minutes early to all 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.
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
- avalanche terminology
- avalanche mechanics
- mountain weather
- snowpack structure
- basic terrain evaluation
- equipment requirements
Practical 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.
Review these documents, and bring completed Waiver and Medical Forms to your program:
Canada West Mountain School Waiver & Medical Form - CWMS Waiver/Med form
Please print and review the "Medical form" and "Waiver and Assumption of Risk form" before your program and bring the printed forms to the first session of your program.
Avalanche Course Gear List - Canada West Mountain School Avalanche Course Gear List
CWMS Refund & Transfers policies - Refund Policy