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AST Level 2 Avalanche Course in Whistler

Mountain Skills Academy
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Reserve spots for 5 or more people, and get $12 off for each
1 Person
4 day
Mountain Skills Academy
  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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 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)
    • 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.

    • 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
    • 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 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.

    • 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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