|Courses: Winter: Avalanche Skills Training: Course Questions|
Avalanche Skills Training course Questions
We encourage you to gather as much information as possible about any avalanche training program that you are considering. Once you have narrowed your search down, feel free to call us directly to discuss any questions you may have.
For more general questions about Canada West Mountain School, please visit our FAQ page.
Questions about Canada West Mountain School Courses
How long has CWMS been teaching Avi courses?
We have been teaching Avalanche Safety training courses for skiers, ice climbers and snowboarders for 25 years, with our first course offered in 1982.
Since that time we have delivered Avalanche Safety courses to many thousands of skiers, boarders and climbers.
What is the difference between your Vancouver and Whistler AST-1 courses?
Both courses exceed the CAA standard for AST-1 courses and cover the same content. The only difference is location and course structure.
The Vancouver-based course has a separate evening session in advance of the field sessions in order to cover much of the theory. This allows students to gather this info a few days in advance of the field session.Field sessions are split between the North Shore mountains and Whistler/Blackcomb, allowing students to experience two completely separate geographical regions and snowpacks.
The Whistler-based AST-1 course has the classroom sessions incorporated into the Saturday and Sunday. This allows students to take the course all in one weekend, but the days are longer and there is slightly less time to practice new skills. Field sessions are split between Whistler and Blackcomb.
Who are your Course Instructors?
All of our Instructors are CAA Active Members with at least a Level 1 Certification and who have been teaching regularly for CWMS for many years. Our program is directly supervised by Brian Jones, a Professional member of the CAA with Level 2 certification. Brian has been teaching Avalanche Safety courses since 1986.
Additionally, all instructors take part in our own Instructor training sessions every season to ensure that every CWMS Instructor is teaching our courses to the same exacting standards.
For more details please visit our Instructors page.
What is included in a CWMS AST-1 training course?
Our Recreational Level AST-1 courses include:
Where are your field sessions held?
For our Vancouver-based courses the first field day session is held in the alpine backcountry area behind Mount Seymour, while the 2nd field day is held in the backcountry alpine regions of Whistler or Blackcomb mountains.
Our Whistler-based courses have the field sessions in both the regions behind Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.
Field sessions for the Snowshoe courses are held on Mount Seymour and in the backcountry regions of the Coquihalla, or in the Diamond Head region of Garibaldi Park.
How well do I need to be able to ski for the AST-1?
Our AST-1 courses all include at least one day of backcountry skiing on Whistler or Blackcomb (except the snowshoeing course). Participants should be able to ski well on ungroomed terrain at a "Blue" level with either Telemark or Alpine skis. Please avoid using the Avalanche courses as your first day of learning Telemark skiing, even if you are an expert Alpine skier already.
How quickly do your courses book up?
Our Avalanche courses are generally booked up to one month in advance. If you know the dates that you want to book, please contact us as soon as you can by applying online at our Online Registration page.
Who oversees Avalanche Training in Canada?
The Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) oversees all Avalanche Safety training programs in Canada. Authorized course providers are recognized by the CAA, use CAA materials and agree to adhere to CAA specified standards.
For full details on the CAA please visit their site at Avalanche.ca.
Questions to ask Avalanche Training providers
There are a few simple questions that should be directed to any Avalanche Course provider that you are considering:
Also, if the course fee seems unusually cheap, you may want to question why. Remember, ultimately what you are paying for is the experience, training and professionalism of your Instructor combined with the backing and support of the agency they work for - don't expect to get a high quality course and pay only a small amount.
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