Thank you for your interest in AST courses offered through Kootenay Avalanche Courses. The focus will be toward maximizing safety and fun in the winter backcountry. During the non-winter months, I work as a mental health counsellor with children and youth. I use tools from psychology to help my teaching. I’ve published a couple articles on Human Factors in the winter backcountry and am co-author of the new AST Handbook coming out fall of 2018. Be prepared for an engaging and interactive course. Think of the AST as a two part program. AST1 is Part 1 and generally prepares you to be a follower but also an active participant in a group of backcountry recreationists. AST2 is Part 2 and helps prepare you to be a leader of a group.
Prerequisites for the AST1
- You must have a minimum of at least 2 backcountry days with the same equipment you plan to use on the course.
- You should be proficient skiing/boarding in powder up to at least 30-35 degrees in open and treed terrain.
- Your fitness should be sufficient for you to complete a tour of at least 2,000 vertical feet.
Objectives for the AST 1
At the end of the course, students should be able to:
- Describe avalanche formation and release using basic terminology.
- Identify avalanche terrain.
- Plan and complete a backcountry trip plan using all available resources.
- Describe techniques to minimize risk when traveling in the backcountry.
- Demonstrate a basic companion rescue.
- Understand the limits of their training.
The AST 1 is an introductory level course. Some AST 1 students are just getting started in the winter backcountry, whereas others have been introduced to the sport through friends and are now ready for their first formal course. Prior to the course start, please:
- Make yourself familiar with the Avalanche Canada website. (In particular, please check the latest Bulletin for our region, the Kootenay Boundary. In addition you might be interested in the “Learn” tab of the website which includes an Online Avalanche Tutorial.)
- Look at the Equipment List. It is your responsibility to have all the gear in working order before the course starts. If the gear is new to you (ex. skins, touring bindings, snowshoes, etc) please take the time to become familiar with its use before we head into the field.
- All students are required to sign a waiver at the beginning of day 1 of the course. You can review a copy of the Waiver under Student Resources.
Below, you’ll find a typical outline for your course. The AST 1 starts at 8:00 a.m. sharp. Locations and times are subject to change. Preparation will help make the experience more positive for you and your classmates. I’m looking forward to meeting you.
AST 1 First Day Classroom/Field Session (Note: For the first day, you need outdoor clothing, snow boots, and your pack with avi gear for the afternoon. You also need a lunch. You do not need skis/snowboards. )
0800 – December Courses, meet at Big Red Cats Office, ground level of Red Robs Complex. January or February Courses, meet at Seven Summits Centre For Learning, 2110 First Avenue, Rossland. Introduction to AST, Review course participant background, Set Goals & Review Safety Considerations, Sign Waivers and Pass out Course Books, Go over Course Curriculum
1430 – OUTSIDE: Practice Beacon Search, Probing, Shovel Technique
1600 – More Course Curriculum, Review tomorrow’s field day plan, Equipment needs, Questions, Homework to review course textbook & print Avalanche Bulletin
1700 – Conclude at BRC Welcome Centre or Seven Summits Centre For Learning
AST 1 Second Day Field Session
0700 – Carpool to staging area. We take advantage of the best conditions available in the Monashee or Selkirk Ranges. Weather permitting, courses run in association with Big Red Cats take advantage of their snowcat to get us into the backcountry.
0800 – In the field, skiing, boarding, and touring. Cover Terrain Analysis, Slope Angle, Trip Planner & Slope Specific Decision Tool, Avaluator, Snow Stability Evaluation, Companion Rescue, Group Travel, Human Factors.
1500 – Pick up vehicles and return to classroom
1530 – Course review, Presentation of certificates, Course evaluations
1700 – AST Level 1 Course concludes
Really enjoyed the psychology part of the course.
I feel like I now have the tools to make wise decisions.
Awesome course, great teacher.
Your knowledge and passion are evident and inspiring.