AST-1 PLUS (Seymour/Whistler)
Canada West Mountain School pioneered the original AST-1 PLUS program over 25 years ago and with feedback from Guides, Avalanche instructors and students this continues to be our most popular avalanche safety course. 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. If you are looking for a thorough Avalanche Skills Training program, AST-1 PLUS will give you the most time in the field.
- AST-1 PLUS Course: $275. + GST
Included in all Canada West Mountain School AST-1 Plus courses:
2.5-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 (optional):
$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 the course fee.
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.
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 confirm this date when you register, as some AST-1 dates over the Christmas Holiday season may have a different schedule.
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 the backcountry regions adjacent to Mount Seymour on day-1; and, Blackcomb or Whistler ski area on day-2. Students must be comfortable skiing 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, 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 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.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. 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 or snowpack on Seymour is not suitable for Day-1, then both field days of the course will alternate between Whistler and Blackcomb.
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 - All 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 (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 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.
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
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!
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.
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