AST-1 Classic Snowshoe
Our AST-1 Classic for Snowshoers is an Avalanche Skills course designed specifically for snowshoers traveling in the backcountry. The same technical content is covered on all Canada West Avalanche Skills courses, but we recognise that snowshoers often choose different terrain and routes. Our specially developed curriculum focuses on the unique needs of snowshoers who want to ensure they are staying safe from avalanches while in the backcountry. Based in North Vancouver and Mount Seymour.
Vancouver AST-1 Classic Snowshoers Course: $275. + GST
Included in all Canada West Mountain School AST-1 Classic Seymour courses:
- 2 days of instruction:
Day-1 split between theory and practical sessions
Day-2 practical training in the 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 kit
- 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.
NOTE on weather and snow conditions:
If the snow conditions on Mount Seymour are not suitable for the Day-2 field session, alternate locations may be used. These may include Diamond Head or Callaghan Valley areas if suitable. If no locations are available on your course date due to poor snow conditions, field dates may be postponed (class theory session day will proceed as scheduled).
CANCELLATIONS and TRANSFERS
Please click here for our Cancellation and Transfer Policy
- 2 days of instruction:
Canada West Mountain School has been offering avalanche skills training courses since 1982 - our 2020/21 season AST-1 Classic is built on more than 35 years of experience conducting Avalanche Skills safety training to the highest standard possible.
The AST-1 Classic course focuses on teaching practical methods of understanding, recognizing and avoiding avalanche hazards, including terrain evaluation, effective decision making, group management, safe route finding, snowpack structure, weather, and avalanche rescue techniques.The AST-1 format includes:
- 7 hours of theory
- 10 hours of practical fieldwork
2 Manuals are included in the course (Backcountry Avalanche Awareness and the Avaluator V.2) and form an integral part of the learning. Our AST-1 course content and materials have been developed and refined over the past 35 years and are based on the nationally-recognized AST-1 curriculum developed by Avalanche Canada.Theory topics include:
- avalanche hazard recognition
- avalanche terminology
- decision making and human factors
- avalanche mechanics
- mountain weather
- snowpack structure
- basic terrain evaluation
- equipment requirements
- introduction to Avalanche Companion Rescue
The initial theory session also will prepare you for the practical field sessions so that your time in the field is used most efficiently.Skills and topics covered on the Day-2 practical field session include:
- terrain evaluation
- mountain hazard assessment
- group management
- effective decision making in Avalanche Terrain
- safe route finding techniques
- snowpack analysis
- snow testing techniques
- transceiver searches
- rescue fundamentals
At the end of the course, our Instructors conduct a "wrap up" session that we feel is a critical aspect of all Canada West Mountain School AST programs, as this allows students an opportunity to "put all the pieces together" before heading out on your own. During this session, 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 finding out the hard way, later!
On day-1, the first class session will be held at one of our Classrooms. Most dates the class will be held at either our office/classroom at #240-400 Brooksbank Ave, North Vancouver (1 block up from MEC); or, at the West Vancouver Cricket Club in Hugo Ray Park, 1290 3rd St, West Vancouver.
You will receive email instructions 2-3 days in advance of the course for the specific meeting points for the first day of your course. The first day of the course includes both indoor and outdoor sessions and will finish by 4 pm.Canada West Mountain School main office & classroom
240-400 Brooksbank Ave, North Vancouver (1 block up from MEC)
Classroom location for West Vancouver Cricket Club/Hugo Ray Park
1290 Third Street, West Vancouver
You will receive final meeting and location details for the class in advance, though typically this class will start at 0815 on Day-1 of the course dates, at one of the two locations noted above.
The field sessions are held in the backcountry behind Mount Seymour. Occasionally, alternate locations may be used such as Whistler/Blackcomb, Diamond Head near Squamish, or the Coquihalla Pass near Hope.
In the event that snowpack and/or weather conditions are such that we cannot conduct a good quality field session on day 2 of your course at any of our field locations, we will allow all students to re-schedule onto a future AST-1 Snowshoers field session date of their choice. The decision to postpone the day-2 field session may not be made until 1-2 days in advance of the course dates, to allow for the latest snow and weather reports.
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 specific meeting locations vary from one course date to another, please ensure you confirm the correct location for your course date!
On day-1, the first session usually is held at our Classroom located at #240-400 Brooksbank Ave, North Vancouver (1 block up from MEC) at 0815, unless other arrangements are made at the time of registration. You will receive email instructions a few days in advance of the course for the specific meeting points for the first day of your course. The first day of the course includes both indoor and outdoor sessions. The Day-1 class session will finish between 4:00 and 5:00 pm.
The Day-2 field session logistics (location, meeting times, gear, etc) will be arranged during the first day, but please plan on a 7:45 am start time and a finish time of 5 pm. Day-2 is usually held on Mt Seymour, though in cases of poor snow conditions, alternate locations may be used.
Students are reminded to plan to arrive 10-15 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.
Our format includes 7 hours of theory and 10 hours of practical fieldwork, spread over 2 days of instruction. 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
basic terrain evaluation
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:
mountain hazard assessment
safe route finding techniques
snow testing techniques
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 Classic Snowshoers 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 snowshoes and good footwear are required for the Day-2 field session; ski poles are recommended.
Important Gear note for Day-1 of your course:
During the afternoon field session on Day-1 you will require a transceiver, shovel, probe and a small pack, as well as be prepared for being outdoors in any weather conditions for 1-2 hours, including footwear and clothing that is appropriate for walking and standing in snow and wet conditions, as you will be outside in any/all conditions for up to 2-3 hours. Snowshoes are not required for Day-1.
Questions about Avalanche Skills 1 (AST-1) Snowshoers course
Review these documents, and bring completed Waiver and Medical Forms to your program:
Canada West Mountain School Medical and Waiver Form - CWMS Medical & Waiver form
Cancellation and Transfer policy - Cancellation and Transfer Policy
Avalanche Course Gear List - Canada West Mountain School Avalanche Course Gear List