Top three reasons to upgrade your skills in Banff
Banff National Park is one of Canada’s most prized natural jewels
Excellent snow conditions and breathtaking scenery
The perfect combination of classroom and field experience
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 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.
November through April
Calgary is a 1.5-hour drive from Banff
Beginner to intermediate
Choose how you spend your days
AST Level 1 Course in Banff
This introductory Level 1 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. On your first day of classroom study, learn the theory in Banff’s Ptarmigan Inn, then put your newfound knowledge to use on your next day in the field.
AST Level 1 Course in Calgary
This course is the same AST Level 1 course like the one in Banff, the only difference being the time and location of classroom lessons. The first day of instruction will be held in Winsport Calgary, while the next day’s field study will be in Banff National Park. Learn how to negotiate the perilous backcountry by joining your guide in the field for hands-on practice!
During your first day of classroom study you will cover topics such as:
- the causes of avalanches
- the snow science behind avalanches
- first-hand experience from the instructors and necessary avalanche gear.
The second day in Banff is dedicated to applying your newfound knowledge in the field. Get ready for an outing full of excitement and learn all about:
- rescue techniques
- snowpack analysis
- methods of managing groups and mitigating risk
- reading the terrain
- skiing and riding the park’s brilliant powder.
Meet your guide
Alpine Air Adventures
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
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
Covid measures in Alberta
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 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 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
- Food and snacks
How fit do I need to be?
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.
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.
What equipment do I need to bring?
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:
- 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
- Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
- Camera — optional
Can I rent equipment?
All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. The following can be rented:
Ski rental locations can be found in Calgary, 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 age requirements
Group sizes and pricing:
- These courses are not private. For the group courses, the usual guest to guide ratio is 8:1.
- Cost is per person and it doesn’t decrease as the group grows.
- Ski touring in Banff, Alberta can be arranged for larger or private groups. Contact us to make arrangements.
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.
Getting there and meeting location
To get to Banff, you can fly into Calgary National Airport. From there it’s a half-hour drive to Winsport Calgary and 1.5 hours from the Ptarmigan Inn in Banff.
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 guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ski ability of the group.