AST Level 2 Avalanche Course in Whistler

Whistler | British Columbia
Trip Highlights

Top three reasons to upgrade your skills in Whistler

  • Trip Highlight

    Build on the foundations of your AST 1 Course in ideal avalanche terrain

  • Trip Highlight

    A perfect mix of classroom theory and field components in Whistler’s true backcountry

  • Trip Highlight

    Learn to mitigate avalanche hazards while soaking in expansive icy landscapes

On the off-chance that you haven’t heard of Whistler and its magnificent surrounding area, it is an absolute treat for any skiing enthusiast. With its breathtaking scenery, expansive landscapes and easily accessible terrain for all skill levels, it almost seems that the Whistler region was made to be skied on. The fact that Whistler hosted quite a few alpine events during the 2010 Winter Olympics is just another feather in the cap to its already established reputation as a top-notch skiing destination with incredible alpine terrain. This is exactly why this area is ideal if you wish to broaden your already-existing avalanche safety skills and be prepared for any perils the backcountry throws your way. Join an expert guide and learn how to stay safe in the backcountry over four days on the spectacular snowy slopes. Find out more about why Whistler is one of the best places for backcountry skiing in Canada from Greg Hill, ACMG Ski Guide extraordinaire.


November through April

Nearest city

Vancouver, BC, is 1.5 hours away


4 days

Skill level

Intermediate to advanced


Choose how you spend your day

4-Day AST Level 2 Course

4 days

During four consecutive days you’ll learn how to identify and mitigate the avalanche and mountain hazards that may occur while in the backcountry. Learn a whole host of things regarding snowpack assessment, terrain management and rescue skills, as well as how to formulate a safety plan for backcountry skiing and much more.

Your certified instructor and guide will help you with the theoretical part on Day 1 and you will apply this newfound knowledge in true backcountry over the following 3 days.

4-day Split Weekend AST Level 2 Course

4 days

Find out how to recognize the unforeseen pitfalls that you may chance upon during your backcountry travel and learn how to react if things go south! It consists of one classroom day and 3 days of extensive outdoor field sessions in Whistler where your expert guide will show you all you need to know about terrain management and mitigating risk.

The course is held over 2 consecutive weekends and consists of a classroom day, after which Day 2 will be spent in true backcountry on the following day, while days 3 and 4 are held over the following weekend, also in Whistler’s backcountry.

4-Day Private AST Level 2 Course

4 days

Have a guide all to yourself and learn how to recognize and mitigate the avalanche hazards that you may face while in the backcountry! Your knowledgeable instructors and guide will teach you all you need to know about snowpack assessment, avalanche forecast, terrain management and analysis, rescue skills, safe travel techniques, creating a dependable safety plan for backcountry skiing or splitboarding and much more.

The first day is spent in the classroom, and days 2-4 will be spent in Whistler’s stunning backcountry, where you’ll put your newly-acquired knowledge to use.

Trip Highlights

Learning outcomes

Day 1: Classroom day

The classroom portion begins at 9:00 am and ends at 5:00 pm. The guide will review everything you’ve already covered in your AST 1 course before starting on the course theory. The day ends with a debrief, as well as homework, some handouts and a resources list. The topics you’ll cover during the course are:

    • AST1 review
    • Group leadership
    • Avalanche types
    • Terrain management techniques
    • The avalanche forecast
    • Trip planning
    • Avalanche danger exceptions
    • Companion rescue theory

The classroom allows all students to maintain the required 2m physical distancing guidelines and cleaning is performed before and after every meeting room use, as well as during every break.

Day 2: First field day

The second day will be spent in Whistler and you’ll get to put the newly-acquired knowledge to use. You and your guide will discuss overnight changes in weather and conditions as well as the effect on the day’s plan. You’ll also develop a daily safety strategy and cover the following:

    • Trailhead procedures
    • Obtaining field observations
    • Advanced companion rescue
    • The bulletin & avalanche problems
    • Perform snowpack test
    • Situational awareness & leadership
    • Recognizing terrain transitions
    • Recognizing avalanche hazard areas
    • Safe travel techniques & group management
    • Snow stability test
    • Snowpack & weather recording
    • Homework
    • Local avalanche bulletin
    • Weather forecast
    • Mountain conditions report
    • Field findings

Day 3: Second field day

You’ll spend the third day in the Whistler area as well and will continue to practice new skills. You’ll cover these topics:

    • Leadership in avalanche terrain
    • Independent safety decision making
    • Safe track setting
    • Situational awareness & leadership
    • Safe travel techniques & group management
    • Advanced companion rescue
    • Homework
    • Local avalanche bulletin
    • Weather forecast
    • Mountain conditions report
    • Field findings

Day 4: Recap

On this third day in the field, you will get a recap of lessons from previous two days and you’ll cover the following topics:

    • Dealing with terrain crux
    • Course debrief
    • Final safety discussion
    • Next steps: mountain navigation, crevasse rescue, ski mountaineering

Reviews (4)

Excellent AST2 Course!
Chris K. about Mountain Skills Academy on TripAdvisor

AST2 course with MSAA was excellent! Eliel Bureau-LaFontaine was our instructor and he did an incredible job of providing us with a systematic approach to this complex topic when backcountry skiing. I definitely feel much more informed about avalanches risks and now have more tools to make informed trip planning decisions. I would definitely recommend Eliel and this course!

AST 2 – Amazing Private Course
nancyez about Mountain Skills Academy on TripAdvisor

I booked a private AST 2 with 5 friends and we learned a ton. We had the MSAA owner lead our first two days and he is super experienced and knowledgeable. And then we had another one of their guides lead the second two days. It was great to have a breadth of experience to train us over the course. We had our field days up past Pemberton to the Duffey as well as in the Blackcomb backcountry. They did a great job accommodating our requests and took us to build our skills in the type of terrain our group aspires to ski.

AST 2 – Amazing Private Course
Vicki R. about Mountain Skills Academy on TripAdvisor

Took AST2 with MSAA last week. Amazing experience. Our skilled guides controlled group dynamics, pushed our brains and bodies just the right amount, and privileged us with “taking the lead” and making decisions under their diplomatic lead. I learned so much and had so much fun with the amazing sights and terrain that I basically forgot we were “in class”! Thank you, Eric, Rob and team. You delivered, royally! ;D

Awesome AST 2 Course 4 days
Yvon Sevigny about Mountain Skills Academy on TripAdvisor

I would like to thank the Mountain Skill Academy team, especially Eric and Monica for providing me with the skills I need to analyse all the variables that affect a backcountry ski excursion in the mountains. All this was done with a very high level of professionalism.
I recommend this course to all skiers that value their life as much as mine.

Things to know

Things to know

Covid measures in Whistler

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, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Whistler, BC, please refer to the official website of British Columbia.

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’s included?

What you get in this adventure:

    • An experienced, certified guide with extensive knowledge of the area
    • A classroom day and 3 days in the field
    • Avalanche Skills Training Level 2 certificate (upon successful completion)
    • Decision making in avalanche terrain fieldbook
    • Canadian Avalanche Association mandatory student fee
    • Use of snow study kit with thermometer, crystal screen and loupe

What’s not included:

    • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
    • Accommodation
    • Food and snacks
    • Parking
    • Lift Ticket (unless you already have a Season Pass, Edge Card or Epic Pass)

How fit do I need to be?

In order to get the most of this adventure, you need to have a good 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 also need prior backcountry experience.

Prerequisites: Participants must have the ability to travel in avalanche terrain. An AST Level 1 course is required and you need to be an experienced backcountry skier in order to participate. Students must be able to travel in the snow and bring appropriate equipment for traveling on snow to class. Skiers must be able to hike for several hours at a time while carrying a small pack. All participants should be comfortable traveling in snow while carrying touring gear.

What equipment do I need to bring?

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

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

For personal items, we recommend bringing:

    • Helmet
    • Sunglasses or ski goggles
    • Gloves
    • A warm hat/toque and balaclava
    • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-Tex recommended)
    • Ski pants (Gore-Tex recommended)
    • Down or synthetic insulated jacket or vest
    • Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
    • Mid layer fleece top
    • 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 with blister kit
    • Sunscreen
    • Daypack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 25-35L backpack)
    • Pen, paper/notebook, face mask (for Classroom Day)
    • Laptop (for Classroom Day) — optional
    • Map, compass, GPS — optional
    • Camera — optional

Can I rent equipment?

All mandatory gear can be rented if you don’t have your own. Your guiding service has teamed up with local rental companies to provide discounted rentals.

    • Avalanche safety pack, including backpack, beacon, shovel and probe from Escape Route
    • Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots and poles can be rented from Escape Route
    • Splitboards can be rented from Escape Route

Ski rental locations are in Whistler 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:

    • For the group courses, the max client to guide ratio is 8:1.
    • Cost is per person and it doesn’t decrease as the group grows.
    • For the private course, the max client to guide ratio is 8:1.
    • The cost for the private course is per person and decreases as your group grows, making it a perfect opportunity to learn with your friends and family!

Courses in Whistler, BC, can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

Min. age requirements:

    • If you are older than 19, you’re good to go.
    • Guests under the age of 19 must have a parent or legal guardian sign the waiver on their behalf.

If your group has skiers under the age of 19, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Whistler, most people fly into Vancouver International Airport 1.5 hours away. From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service to Whistler.

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. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ability of the group.

Depending on group ability and conditions, the field days can be hosted in other destinations such as the Duffey or Squamish. This will be a group decision made on either day 1 or 2. If you have purchased lift passes for this course and the field day location changes, MSAA will issue a 100% refund.

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Wired for a better world

Outdoor adventuring makes us fall in love with our planet and people, it gets our brains rewired differently and forces us to rethink our life priorities.

For years, we’ve dreamt of building a company that can make an impact on things that we deeply care about. Here are some initiatives we are grateful to be contributing to.

1% of our sales goes to environmental non-profits
We provide work to thousands of local guides worldwide
We operate on carbon neutral and renewable energy
1% for the education and diversity in guiding
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