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.
- Whistler Avalanche Skills Training 1 (AST-1): $235. + GST
Included in all Canada West Mountain School AST-1 courses:
2 - days AST-1 course instruction
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
$58. (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 course fee.
- 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 comfortable skiing in control on Blue runs in ungroomed conditions. At least Intermediate skiing/riding skills and above are recommended. While you will not be skiing steep or technical terrain on this course, conditions will be un-groomed. If you are unsure if this course may be more too challenging for you, please contact our office directly.
Our Whistler AST-1 course follows the curriculum developed by Avalanche Canada and Canada West Mountain School. Canada West Mountain School has been conducting Avalanche Skills Training courses since 1982 and has developed a unique program integrating our resources and delivery specific to the Whistler region and Coast Mountains of BC.
- 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.
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 0800 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.
There will be a lunch break scheduled around mid-day.
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 will need to be prepared for being outdoors in any weather conditions for this session, though ski or snowboard equipment is not required for Day-1.
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 0800 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.
Here is a link to the 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 session on Day-2 only; or, snowboard and snowshoe combo; 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 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
Save $50 on an Avalanche Transceiver!
When you register for any scheduled AST-1 or AST-2 course, and purchase an optional Barryvox ELEMENT Avalanche transceiver, you will receive a $50 discount off the combined price. Just click to add the optional ELEMENT Beacon when you are selecting your course.
Review these documents, and bring completed Waiver and Medical Forms to your program:
CWMS Medical Disclosure Form - CWMS MEDICAL form
CWMS Waiver & Assumption of Risk - CWMS Waiver
CWMS Gear List - Canada West Mountain School Avalanche Course Gear List
CWMS Refund & Transfers policies - Refund Policy