Ask any backcountry skier/boarder that has sampled a BC backcountry lodge, and you’ll hear raves like “best way to backcountry ski, period” or “best week of skiing of my life”. People keep coming back to lodges. Besides the fantastic terrain for sweet turns, these lodges also provide the perfect classroom for avalanche education.
Keith runs avalanche courses at various backcountry lodges in British Columbia. This is the finest way to hone your ski touring skills, under the watchful eye of an instructor. All of the curriculum from AST2 is covered. You will have three days of self-guided ski touring with other students. Starting in 2021-2022, each AST2++ group will meet monthly via Zoom for season-long mentorship from November to April.
Amazing course. Briefly considered a local AST2 course. Very glad I did this instead. Extremely valuable being immersed in the environment and thinking/talking/learning about avalanches every day for a week.
Hilda has skiable terrain for all avalanche conditions, but requires precise route-finding in order to manage avalanche risk. Keith screens all applicants for Lodge Based AST2++ courses to make sure each student has significant backcountry experience to manage the self-guided days as well as the ability to handle the vertical ups and downs. See below to review the prerequisites. The runs are steep, long, and provide some of the best fall-line skiing on earth. You will have the opportunity to apply your skills by planning appropriate tours for the conditions.
Keith is the co-author of the new AST Handbook, which is used for all AST courses. He also just updated the AST2 curriculum and wrote the Instructor Manual for Avalanche Canada. BE PREPARED FOR A FULLY ENGAGING AND INTERACTIVE COURSE!
This is not a guided trip. You will receive instruction and mentorship. You will be responsible for planning and carrying out self-guided tours in small groups during 3 of the 8 days.
Thank you for creating such a thoughtful course – the mixture of self-guided days with course days feels like the best way to achieve smart results: we were forced into thinking critically and outside the box to evaluate each of our moves.
The lodge week is in the middle of February. This is the best time to be at Hilda, late enough to have a deeper snowpack, but early enough to get colder temperatures and the highest likelihood of sweet Kootenay powder. You will be spoiled with semi-private accommodation, sauna, and terrain that is revered by backcountry skiers in the know.
Check out this Video completed by one of the 2022 students:
*2024 Hilda Cost Breakdown: 8 nights Lodging and Heli Transfer($2330), 8 days Catering ($800), AST2++ Course ($850) = $3980 & 5% GST
*2025 Hilda Cost Breakdown: 8 nights Lodging and Heli Transfer ($2470), 8 days Catering ($850), AST2++ Course ($900) = $4220 & 5% GST
*2026 Hilda Cost Breakdown: 8 nights Lodging and Heli Transfer ($2600), 8 days Catering ($900), AST2++ Course ($950) = $4450 & 5% GST
* 2024 prices are guaranteed. 2025-2026 prices can change due to cost increase/decrease from the external providers.
February 10-18, 2024 @ Hilda Lodge DEPOSIT, $1000 + 5% GST$1,000.00 February 10, 3:00 p.m. - February 18, 2024, 12:00 p.m. Note: Deposit = $1000. Final Payment of $2980 & 5% GST due by October 10, 2023. *Price is subject to change due to increase/decrease by the external providers. Add to cartOnly 4 spots remaining!
February 8-16, 2025 @ Hilda Lodge DEPOSIT, $1000 + 5% GST$1,000.00 February 8, 3:00 p.m. - February 16, 2025, 12:00 p.m. Note: Deposit = $1000. Final Payment of $3220 & 5% GST due by October 8, 2024. *Price is subject to change due to increase/decrease by the external providers.Add to cart
February 14-22, 2026 @ Hilda Lodge DEPOSIT, $1000 + 5% GST$1,000.00 February 14, 3:00 p.m. - February 22, 2026, 12:00 p.m. Note: Deposit = $1000. Final Payment of $3450 & 5% GST due by October 14, 2025. *Price is subject to change due to increase/decrease by the external providers.Add to cart
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Prerequisites for the AST2++
- AST1, or permission from the instructor in cases of equivalent training.
- You must have at least 30+ backcountry days.
- You were leading/route-finding on at least 10+ trips.
- You should be proficient skiing/boarding powder in at least 35-40 degree open and treed terrain.
- Your fitness must be sufficient for you to complete tours of at least 3,000-4,000 vertical feet each day for 7 days.
- A smartphone with a mapping app that has Valkyr terrain downloaded for offline use.
- You must fill out the application. See “Apply Now” above.
At the end of the course, learners will be able to:
- Demonstrate how to use the decision-making skills of a group to manage avalanche risk.
- Use intermediate to advanced concepts to describe the theoretical framework of avalanche terrain and snowpack.
- Plan and carry out trips using the seven steps of the Daily Process.
- Organize and lead companion rescue.
I also want to say how impressed I was with the hut based portion of the course. You have such a contagious love for the study of avalanches, being in the mountains, skiing (both down and up!). Along with your humble attitude and genuine interest in teaching makes this such a wonderful learning environment. I can’t imagine a better person or program to learn about avalanches from and I would highly recommend this program to anyone interested in taking their avalanche knowledge to the next level. I believe that all of us who had the incredible experience to learn from Keith during this week will move forward in the backcountry with a greatly enhanced awareness and skill set to manage the risk.AST2+ exceeded my expectations in every way. Prior to the course I often fell into the backseat – not truly involved in the planning or execution of a tour. My first avalanche course gave me some basic context, but it didn’t force critical thinking. Keith, you teach in a way that pushes us to do our own evaluation before you walk us through yours – this is invaluable. It is this critical thinking that empowers us in the field to choose the right terrain for the conditions.
Please read the page dedicated to giving you all the pre-course information you’ll need at: Backcountry Lodge Information for AST2++ Students.
Typical Schedule (exact times subject to change)
Monthly meetings via Zoom from November – April.
Mentored study throughout the winter.
Saturday: 3:00 pm: Check-in to VRBO or Canyon Court Motel in Nakusp. Begin course at VRBO. 7:00 pm: Dinner at VRBO.
Sunday: 6:30 am: Breakfast at VRBO. 7:20 am: Drive to Burton. 8:00 am: Meet at Burton helicopter staging area for safety briefing and fly to lodge. 11:00 am: Get settled in rooms and have lunch. 1:00 pm: Companion Rescue practice and short tour. 5:00 pm: Appetizers. 5:30 pm: Class session on Human Factors and Decision Making. 7:00 pm: Dinner.
Monday: 6:30 am: Morning meeting to discuss conditions (Alternate who runs the meeting). 7:00 am: Breakfast & pack your lunch. 8:00 am: All day ski tour with focus on terrain and travel practice. 4:00 pm: Appetizers. 5:30 pm: Class session including navigation and trip planning for tomorrow’s tour. 7:00 pm: Dinner.
Tuesday: 6:30 am: Morning meeting. 7:00 am: Breakfast. 8:00 am: Morning session of companion rescue and snow science. 11:30 am: Lunch at cabin. 12:30 pm: Afternoon tour. 4:00 pm: Appetizers. 5:30 pm: Class session including navigation and trip planning for tomorrow’s tour. 7:00 pm: Dinner.
Wednesday: 6:30 am: Morning meeting. 7:00 am: Breakfast & pack your lunch. 8:00 am: Ski Tour with emphasis on leadership and group decision making. 4:00 pm: Appetizers. 5:30 pm: End-of-course individualized feedback. 7:00 pm: Dinner.
Thursday – Saturday: 6:30 am: Morning meeting. 7:00 am: Breakfast & pack your lunch. 8:00 am: Self-guided tours in smaller groups. 4:00 pm: Appetizers. 7:00 pm: Dinner, final night celebration.
Sunday: 7:00 am: Breakfast. 9:00 am: Fly back to Burton staging area and begin travel home.
Our buddy Vince Hempsall wrote a very flattering article about his experience on the KAC Lodge Based AST2+ in March 2017. Vince is the managing editor for Kootenay/Coast Mountain Culture Magazine. You can check out his article here: Chasing Avalanches
More information about Lodge Based AST 2++:
Sign up early. We plan these courses 4-5 years in advance in order to get prime weeks booked with the lodge.
Yes, you can take the Lodge Based AST 2++ even if you’ve previously done an AST 2. Students take the Lodge Based AST 2++ in order to learn greater avalanche skills in the setting of a beautiful backcountry lodge. Some students have taken the Lodge Based AST2++ two or three times!
We understand that the AST2++ week at a lodge is a big financial commitment. Occasionally events occur that may prevent you from joining us due to missed flight connection, job loss, death of a family member or your own illness or injury. When an unexpected event prevents you from travelling, Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption reimburses travel costs if your trip is cancelled before you leave or disrupted after it has begun. To avoid any financial hardship that an unexpected cancellation or interruption could cause, we recommend purchasing Trip Cancellation/Interruption to protect your trip investment. Trip Cancellation/Interruption costs about 5% of your trip cost. Contact our preferred provider Lifestyle Financial and they can provide you with a quote for both Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance and Emergency Medical Insurance (if needed). Travel Insurance Link for Guests
Check out a video shot by one of our AST 2 students in 2013:
Your teaching skills were exceptional, though I found a lot of ownership in my own learning.I learned the most I possibly could without overload of info.
Experience of a lifetime, honestly. The venue blew my mind. The chance to ski here with your instruction and the opportunity to interact with a group was the real thing.