Trip Dates

Feb 9-10, 2019
More dates AST 1 page


  • $235 plus gst, includes avalanche course book*, avaluator*, AST 1 cert*
  • AST 1 + is $360 plus gst (3 day program): it includes an extra field day

Group Size

Maximum of 8, Minimum of 6

Skill Level

Beginner to Intermediate (*see prerequisites)

Related Trips

Intro to Backcountry Ski Touring
AST Level 2
Nelson Classics
Companion Rescue Skills

Avalanche Skills Level 1

Are you planning to explore the local backcountry this winter? Do you want to learn basic travel and powder skiing safety in avalanche terrain? 

Join one of our AST level 1 courses and learn how to recognize avalanche terrain, manage it and read snow packs information to better choose the right up track, avoid avalanches and enjoy your turns. 

This 2 day introductory course is based out of Nelson BC.  It follows the Canadian Avalanche Association program, goals and objectives. Check out a review of the course done by Backcountry Skiing Canada for more photo’s and course perspective. 


  • Day 1: The first day is mainly classroom. We will discuss and watch videos on topics like: avalanche hazard recognition,  terminology & mechanics, mountain weather, snow pack structure & basic terrain evaluation. We will also sign a waiver and do a gear check. Later in the day, we will spend a few hours outside doing transceiver searches while discussing rescue fundamentals.
  • Day 2: Backcountry ski day. The group will meet at 8:00am and drive to a ski touring destinations to be established in the West Kootenay backcountry. During the days, we will spend 8hrs outside. We will focus on learning and practicing skills like: terrain evaluation, mountain hazard assessment, safe route finding techniques, snow pack analysis and snow testing techniques.
  • Students will receive a CAA certificate and personal feedback before course end


Intermediate backcountry skiing or boarding ability (touring equipment, snow board & snowshoes or split board required).

Pre-read Backcountry Avalanche Awareness by Bruce Jamieson

Previous avalanche training useful but not required.  Students must be intermediate to advanced resort riders. Students are responsible to self evaluate their skills as groups need to be matched together based on prior experience and ability.  Please contact us to discuss your background and what kind of course would suit you best.



Kootenay weather can vary drastically.  In winter you expect temperatures to be from -15C to –5C in the day while in spring daily temperatures could rise well above zero.  Visibility may be poor or whiteout conditions when snowing heavily or clear on bluebird days.  Ensure you are dressed for all variations as temperatures, wind, precipitation can change within the day. 


This course is based in Nelson BC. Field days will occur in the Selkirks Mtns, the local backcountry near Nelson. Details will be given to participants before course start. For a list of possible venues click Nelson Classics.  Feel free to contact us for more information.

Services Included

  • Pre-trip planning support
  • Certified ACMG, IFMGA and/or CAA instructor
  • AST 1 class notes
  • Avaluatorâ„¢ Trip Planner
  • Backcountry Avalanche Awareness by Bruce Jamieson
  • Group safety equipment (communication device, rescue kit, first aid supplies, GPS, maps)

Not included in price:

  • Lunch, snacks
  • GST 5% tax
  • optional field book: Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain
  • Personal ski touring boots, skis, skins or splitboard
  • personal avalanche safety equipment *SMG rentals available $25/day for beacon ($15), shovel ($5) & probe ($5)
  • Transportation to touring location
  • Trip cancellation, adventure travel insurance, medical insurance


Where can I rent Ski touring and safety equipment?

Here are a few outdoor stores in Nelson that supply good service and quality outdoor equipment and gear rental, please ensure you rent gear well in advance.

Rivers Oceans and Mountains 354-2056
Valhalla Pure Outfitters 354-1006
Gericks   354-4622

Digital vs Analog Transceiver?

What kind of transceiver can I use?  If you are interested in touring in the back country with friends or take one of our courses, it is very important to get a modern “triple antenna digital beacon”.  The analog beacons are functional however, they are limiting and a thing of the past. We ask participants to ensure that they have a digital transceiver for the course.

For recreational skiers and boarders, we suggest the following beacons: Mammut-Baryvox “Element”, Ortovox “Zoom”, Peeps “DSP tour” or hte Tracker “2”. For people that moving towards working in the ski industry a more professional “more advanced” beacons is recommended, such as Mammut-Baryvox “Pulse”, Ortovox “3+“ or Peeps “regular DSP”. 

Skis, Telemark or Split Boards?

Which should you use? If you are a downhill skier then you should use Alpine Touring gear. Only if you are already an advanced Telemark skier or Snowboarder should you bring Telemark or Split Board gear. All types of gear can be rented in Nelson prior to your day trip.  There are three types of backcountry systems you can use:

Alpine Touring skis are essentially downhill skis with a special touring binding which allows the heel to lift whilst going uphill or across the flats and then ‘locks down’ to become a regular downhill safety binding. We recommend this system to anyone with a background of downhill skiing who is not already an advanced telemark skier. 

Telemark skis. These should only be used for this program if you are at least an advanced-intermediate telemark skier with some backcountry experience. This system is more difficult and less forgiving than the others.

Snowboarding with a Split Board is the most effective way to snowboard in the back country. We recommend this system to advanced snowboarder over snowshoeing.