AST-1 Classic (Whistler)
We offer the highest standard of Avalanche Skills training in Whistler, with a proven history since 1982. If you ski or snowboard in the Backcountry, join our expert Avalanche Educators for your AST-1 course this season! Designed specifically for the needs of skiers and boarders in Whistler, our AST-1 course combines engaging classroom sessions along with practical field-based learning in a backcountry environment over 2 full days. This combo allows us to deliver one of the best Avalanche Skills Training experiences available.
AST-1 Classic Course - Whistler: $275. + GST
Included in all Canada West Mountain School AST-1 Classic Whistler courses:
- 2 days of instruction:
Day-1 split between theory and practical sessions
Day-2 practical training in the 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 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
Exclusive On-Course Avalanche Safety Equipment rentals available:
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 - there are no hassles with going to another shop to pick them up or drop them off 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 $74 +gst, add "Lift Access" when Registering.
NOTE on weather and snow conditions:
The AST-1 Classic Whistler course will be conducted in all winter weather conditions. If the Lifts from the valley are closed due to any reason outside of our control on the 2nd day of the course, CWMS may re-schedule the Alpine Backcountry training portion.
CANCELLATIONS and TRANSFERS
Please click here for our Cancellation and Transfer Policy
- 2 days of instruction:
- At least Intermediate skiing/riding skills and above are required. The AST-1 Whistler field day on Day-2 is conducted in the backcountry regions adjacent to the Blackcomb or Whistler ski area. Students must be very comfortable skiing/riding in control on Blue runs in ungroomed conditions.
While you will not be travelling on steep or technical terrain on this course, you will be skiing/riding on un-groomed, off-trail slopes. If you are unsure if this course may be too challenging for you, please contact our office directly.
Previous backcountry skiing experience is not required, though students should be comfortable skiing/riding in ungroomed, powder or challenging snow conditions.
Canada West Mountain School has been offering avalanche skills training courses since 1982 - our 2020-21 season Whistler AST-1 Classic is built on more than 35 years of experience conducting Avalanche Skills safety training to the highest standard possible.
The Whistler 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!
- This Avalanche Safety Training (AST-1) Course is based in Whistler, BC and is ideally suited to people who have accommodation in Whistler and do not need to travel between Vancouver and Whistler each day. The first day you will meet in Whistler at our training room at 0815. The class sessions on Day-1 are held at the Whistler Village Inn and Suite, with outside field sessions on the afternoon of Day-1 held in areas adjacent to Whistler Village. On Day-1 you will be outsides for some portions, but will not be travelling in the backcountry and will not need ski/snowboard equipment
View Whistler Village Inn and Suites in a larger map.
Practical field training on Day-2 is held in the Alpine backcountry of the Whistler/Blackcomb ski areas. Specific locations, meetings places and times will be arranged during the Day-1 class sessions. Lift access is required for Day-2 only.
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.
Day-1 of your Avalanche Skills Training course starts at 0815 in our Classroom in Whistler Village. We have developed an engaging and interactive curriculum that will help develop the foundation of Avalanche Safety skills and theory. This morning session will be spent in the classroom and will include a few short breaks.
The afternoon of Day-1 is a practical field session covering Avalanche Rescue; Avalanche safety gear use and application; and, introductory Snowpack analysis skills. This outdoor session will take place adjacent to Whistler Village in a local outdoor setting. Students need to have their transceiver, shovel, probe and a small pack, as well as being prepared for an outdoor session in any weather conditions.Ski/snowboard equipment is not required for Day-1.
The Day-1 session usually wraps up between 4:00 and 4:30 pm. There will be a lunch break scheduled around mid-day.
Day-2 will start at 08:00, with a morning meeting to discuss weather, snowpack and objectives of the group. This day is a full day of "hands-on" practical learning in the field working on snowpack, terrain, travel and rescue skills. This on-snow practical field day will take place fully in the backcountry regions behind Whistler or Blackcomb ski areas. All students must be fully prepared for a day of backcountry touring on skis, split boards or snowshoes.
IMPORTANT NOTE ON MEETING LOCATIONS
The specific meeting locations may vary from one course date to another, please ensure you confirm the correct location for your course date!
Students are responsible for getting to and from the course areas. On day-1, the first session will start at 0815 at our Classroom located in the Whistler Village Inn and Suites, unless other arrangements are made at the time of registration. During the class theory session on Day-1, you will receive instructions for the specific meeting points and times for the Practical Field session on Day-2 of your course, though you can plan on an 8 am meeting on Day-2 in Whistler.
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 Whistler Avalanche Training program begins with a classroom theory session on day one. The first day is split between indoor theory sessions and outdoor field sessions. Class theory sessions provide an overview of the course and cover the following topics:
avalanche hazard recognition
basic terrain evaluation
The first day field session is held outdoors in the Valley and covers:
avalanche transceiver use
Avalanche Safety GEar use and limitations
Companion Rescue simulations
You will also review gear and travel techniques on the first day so you will be fully prepared for the full-day field session in the alpine. This ensures your time in the field is used most efficiently.
Day-2 is spent in the alpine backcountry regions adjacent to the Blackcomb and/or Whistler ski areas where you will have maximum time to focus on learning and practicing skills, including:
mountain hazard assessment
safe route finding techniques
snow testing techniques
rescue review and practice
The final wrap up is an important aspect of Canada West Mountain School Avalanche Skills Training courses, as this allows students an opportunity to "put all the pieces together" 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!
All our AST-1 courses meet, or exceed, the minimum standard set by Avalanche Canada that requires AST Level 1 courses to have a minimum of 7 hours of classroom instruction plus one full day in the field.
Avalanche Skills Course Gear List - 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 Avalanche Safety Equipment rental program for $35. The Canada West "On-Course" Avi Kit rentals will be supplied directly to you on your course - there are no hassles with going to another shop to pick them up or drop them off before the course! Rentals must be booked at time of AST Course Registration, add "Avi Kit" when registering as they are often booked out by the time the course runs.
Additionally, everyone needs to be fully prepared for a day out in winter conditions, the course will be conducted in all 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 the field session on Day-2 only; or, a split-board and climbing skins.
Important 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
Ski/snowboard equipment is not required for Day-1.
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