With its crown of snow-capped peaks towering majestically above a host of surreally colored glacial lakes, Canada’s first and most visited national park is a veritable feast for the eyes. But in addition to its tourist splendor, Banff is also a scene of pilgrimage for outdoor lovers who flock year-round to revel in the park’s wealth of first-class sporting opportunities. Come snowfall, the peaks and hills transform into a skier’s playground, and the area’s wintertime conditions become perfect for avalanche education. This AST Level 1 course in Banff National Park is designed to teach backcountry travelers how to obtain current information about avalanches, understand snowpack dynamics, and safely navigate the unpredictable terrain. With an expert guide by your side, this is the perfect learning environment. And if you’re lucky, you might even witness the winter night sky stunningly illuminated by the Northern Lights.

  • Banff National Park is one of Canada’s most prized natural jewels

  • Excellent snow conditions and breathtaking scenery

  • The perfect combination of classroom and hands-on experience

Itinerary

This introductory avalanche safety course will help you understand the perils of the backcountry and prepare you for any challenges you might face during your travels through the snowy wilderness. Learn avalanche safety theory from your seasoned and certified instructors in a safe online environment, then spend the following day putting your newfound knowledge to use in the field. Field days will be held at the Bow Summit or Vermillion Pass.
  • The course starts off with an online Zoom classroom section, during which you will cover topics such as:

      • The root causes of avalanches
      • Basic weather concepts and patterns contributing to avalanche hazards
      • Group dynamics, risk tolerance and discovering your personal mountain intuition
      • Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale ATES
      • Snow crystal growth and metamorphism (snow science)
      • Avalanche Canada daily Avalanche Bulletin

    On the following day, you’ll get the chance to apply your newfound knowledge in the field. Head to Bow Summit or Vermillion Pass with your guides and get ready for an outing full of excitement. Learn all about:

      • Basics of companion rescue and avalanche gear
      • Rescue techniques
      • Snowpack analysis
      • Methods of managing groups and mitigating risk
      • Reading the terrain
      • Skiing and riding the park’s brilliant powder.

    Classes are held over two days, either during the week (Tuesday-Wednesday) or over the weekend (Saturday-Sunday). Due to conditions, the field day location may change. Any changes will be discussed during the online class.

Meet your guide

Alpine Air Adventures
5.00
Alpine Air Adventures
You’re never on your own in the Banff wilderness because the experienced professionals from Alpine Air Adventures are here to guide you. While they know how to have a great time, they’re always mindful of advanced safety practices. They’re committed to showing each of their guests the best of the Rockies while protecting them every step of the way.

Watch our webinar

5.00 (2 reviews)
Outdoor adventures
Monika about Alpine Air Adventures on Tripadvisor

I’ve been sport rock, trad rock, ice climbing, crevasse coursing and avalanche training through jeff for many years now. His knowledge of the Rockies is incredible and he brings a really light and fun atmosphere to a training environment every single time we are out. Jeff’s physical abilities and his “let’s do it” approach give me a huge peace of mind. There is never anyone else I would want to contact first to head out on a mountain adventure with

Great experience!
Tereza S. about Alpine Air Adventures on Tripadvisor

Highly recommended! Did AST1 with Tamara and it was fantastic!!! Small group, well organized, professionally run and very enjoyable. Thanks for the great weekend!

Things to know

  • 57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.

    We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Banff, Alberta, please refer to Alberta’s official COVID-19 info website.

    Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

  • What you get in this adventure:

      • An experienced, certified guide with extensive knowledge of the area
      • A full day of online classroom instruction
      • A full day in the field
      • Pre-course logistics
      • AvCan curriculum with AvCan text and Avaluator
      • Avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe
      • AvCan certificate of completion

    What’s not included:

      • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
      • Accommodation
      • Transportation
      • Food and snacks
  • In order to get the most of this adventure, you need to have a moderate level of fitness. You will be on your feet for a full day. You will need to manage controlled descents in variable conditions. All participants should feel comfortable on challenging blue or black level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.

    Prerequisites:
    You don’t need to be an advanced skier or boarder, but you do need to be able to ascend moderate slopes using skins. All participants should be comfortable traveling in snow while carrying touring gear. There are no other prerequisites.

  • For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:

      • Alpine touring skis, telemark skis or splitboard with skins (can be rented)
      • Touring boots and poles (can be rented)
      • Avalanche safety equipment (provided by the guide if needed):
        • Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
        • Lightweight snow shovel
        • Avalanche probe

    For personal items, we recommend bringing:

      • Helmet
      • Snowshoes — optional
      • Sunglasses or ski goggles
      • Gloves and hat
      • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-Tex recommended)
      • Ski pants (Gore-Tex recommended)
      • Down jacket or vest
      • Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
      • One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
      • Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
      • Water bottle and 1L of water
      • Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
      • Food you can eat on-the-go
      • First-aid kit
      • Sunscreen
      • Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
      • Camera — optional
  • All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. The following can be rented:

      • Avalanche safety pack, including backpack, beacon, shovel and probe from GearUp Sports in Canmore
      • Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots from GearUp Sports in Canmore
      • Splitboards from GearUp Sports in Canmore

    Ski rental locations can be found in Canmore and Banff and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.

  • Group sizes and pricing:

      • These courses are not private. For the group courses, the max guest to guide ratio is 8:1.
      • Cost is per person and it doesn’t decrease as the group grows.

    Min. age requirements:

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Minors may be permitted to join private tours on a case-by-case basis.

    If your group has skiers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • To get to Banff, most people fly into Calgary International Airport less than 2 hours away. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle. It takes another hour to reach Bow Summit and about 30 minutes to reach Vermillion Pass.

    Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet, whether that’s at the guide shop or a predetermined location. From there, you’ll head to your tour. The field day will be held in Vermillion Pass or Bow Summit depending on the conditions.

Have more questions? Read our FAQ,
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