AST1 (Avalanche Skills Training) Course

A big part of my training plan for Kilimanjaro is year-round hiking and snowshoeing. There is an essence of risk involved with backcountry activities like hiking and snowshoeing. There are a number of things to look out for including avalanche conditions. To expand my knowledge of safe backcountry travel and to make sure I’m ready for June, I signed up for a level one Avalanche Skills Training course last weekend. Objectives of this course are to:

– Understand the basics of avalanche formation and release.
– Identify avalanche terrain.
– Know the steps required to plan and carry out a trip.
– Use the Avaluator™ as a decision-making tool in areas where trips are rated using the Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale.
– Find resources for obtaining ATES terrain ratings if heir trip is not rated.
– Find resources for obtaining Avalanche Danger Ratings and Avalanche Bulletins if these are not available.
– Use appropriate travel techniques in avalanche terrain.- Carry out a companion rescue.

This was a 2 day course consisting of 1 classroom day and 1 field day. Day 2 was our field day on Black Mountain in Cypress Provincial Park where we put theory to practice. We lucked out with a bit of a spike in avalanche conditions from a storm a few days before:










Here is a list of useful links for pre-trip planning:

AST Course Links

During the weekend, I realized the more I learn, the less I know. This course uncovers the basics and I highly recommend it to anyone who spends time in the mountains in our snowy months.


– Happy Trails!

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