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. 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.
Note: Sometimes, we utilize the lifts at Red Resort for one of our field days and you will be responsible for having/purchasing a lift ticket for one day.
Prerequisites for the AST2
- AST1 or permission from the instructor in cases of equivalent training.
- You must have a minimum of at least 20 backcountry days.
- You should be proficient skiing/boarding in powder up to at least 35 degrees in open and treed terrain.
- Your fitness should be sufficient for you to complete a tour of at least 3,000 vertical feet.
- Age 19 and older or 16-18 with a legal guardian
Objectives for the AST 2
At the end of the course, students should be able to:
• Be familiar with Avalanche Danger Ratings verification techniques for personal use on a local scale.
• Be familiar with the Avaluator and the ATES technical model as a means to develop personal, local terrain ratings.
• Understand how human factors influence decision making.
• Be familiar with the Trip Planner and Slope Specific Decision Tool.
• Use routefinding to take advantage of nuances in terrain to manage personal risk.
• Use travel techniques in avalanche terrain appropriate to the avalanche conditions.
• Proficiently carry out a companion rescue
The Avalanche Skills Training Level 2 Course will provide an intermediate to advanced level decision-making framework that includes multiple days in the field. The prerequisite for this course is the AST 1. If your prior training is dated or from outside Canada and you’re not sure whether to sign up for the AST 1 or 2, please contact Keith to discuss. Prior to the course start, please:
- Check out the Trip Planner and Slope Specific Decision Tool along with the discussion paper. It is an older article I wrote several years ago, but I think you will get much more out of the course if you have read this in advance of the classroom session.
- 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 one 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 2 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 2 First Day Classroom/Field
0800 – Meet at Seven Summits Centre For Learning, 2110 First Avenue, Rossland. Classroom: Introduction to AST2, Review course participate background, Set Goals & Review Safety Considerations, Sign Waivers and Pass out Course Books, Trip Planner and Slope Specific Decision Tool, Review plan for Day 2, Equipment needs. Afternoon field session: Companion Rescue practice outside.
1730 – Conclude
AST 2 Second Day Field/Classroom
0800 – Meet at Red Mountain Base Lodge, Review overnight weather, plans for the day
0900 – Ride lifts at Red *(note: lift ticket required), Terrain Evaluation, Practice signal search, Advanced group travel techniques
1530 – Go to 7S for more class curriculum, Students help plan tomorrow’s field day, Equipment needs
1730 – Conclude
AST 2 Third Day Field/Classroom
0730 – Carpool to ski touring location in the Monashee Range, TBD.
0800 – Backcountry Touring Day, Terrain analysis, Snow stability evaluation, Trip Planner & Slope Specific Decision Tool, Group travel
1500 – Pick up vehicles and return to Seven Summits Centre For Learning
1530 – Review day’s learnings at 7S, Students plan final day of touring
1730 – Conclude
AST 2 Fourth Day Field/Classroom
0700 – Carpool to ski touring location in the Selkirk Range, TBD.
0800 – Backcountry Touring Day, Students lead the tour, breaking into smaller groups where appropriate.
1500 – Pick up vehicles and return to 7S
1530 – Course review, Presentation of certificates, Course evaluations
1730 – AST Level 2 Course concludes
Keith has a great teaching style, very inclusive and welcoming, making a nice group vibe.
The combination of indoor and outdoor experiential practice was really helpful.
You were incredibly knowledgeable weaving stories, psychology, and experience in such an engaging way.