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2-day introductory avalanche course near Nelson, British Columbia

Learn the basics of safe winter travel in avalanche terrain in a 2-day informative and hands-on course in the Canadian Selkirk Mountains led by IFMGA-certified mountain guide David. This is an intermediate to advanced program.

Mountain RangeColumbia Mountains
Duration2 days
Offer periodJan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Skill LevelIntermediate
Fitness LevelOccasional
Type of tripNot specified

Description

If you are a backcountry skier or snowboarder, this course is a must for you. Learning the basics of avalanche awareness and companion rescue can save you or someone else’s life.

The Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 (AST 1) offers an introduction to winter travel in avalanche landscape, providing you with the knowledge and skills for reducing risk and ensuring a fast rescue. It includes 7 hours of class work and a field day in the mountains, following the Canadian Avalanche Association’s guidelines.

Participants are taught how to identify and manage avalanche terrain, how to read snowpacks to make smart decisions, and how to avoid avalanches. Please see below the course’s itinerary briefly describing the topics that we will cover each day.

This course is delivered in Nelson (535m), a city located in the Selkirk Mountains (3,519m), in the West Kootenay region, in southeastern British Columbia, Canada. The field day is held in an agreed practice area in the backcountry near Nelson. Often venues include the Whitewater Ski Resort (2,000m), the Rossland area (1,023m), Kootenay Pass (1,775m), Mount Brennan (2,861m) and London Ridge (1,000m).

I will take a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 8 participants on this course. They must be intermediate to advanced riders. Previous avalanche training can be helpful but is not required.

Don’t miss this vital course for safe winter traveling. Send me your booking request now!

If you are looking for other winter activities in British Columbia, I recommend the Burnie Glacier Chalet ski week and the backcountry skiing day tours around Nelson.

Accommodation

Any accommodation in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada

More info

Before the course, you must read "Backcountry Avalanche Awareness" book by Bruce Jamieson, included in the price. The guide will carry the following gear: SAT phone and/or VHF radio, first-aid kit & repair kit, crevasse rescue gear/ski-mountaineering rope (route dependent), evacuation gear for injured people, avalanche rescue gear, snow saw, snow study kit, maps of the area, GPS, compass, and altimeter. You will need to bring: Technical Equipment: • Alpine/Telemark Touring skis (lightweight bindings like Dynafit, G3 Onyx or Silvretta Pure are recommended) OR split board for snowboarding • Alpine/Telemark touring boots (with Vibram sole) • Ski poles (with regular powder baskets) • Climbing skins (at least as wide as the waist of your ski) • Digital avalanche transceiver (3 Antenna, 457 Megahertz with extra batteries)* • Lightweight snow shovel* • Avalanche probe* • Medium-sized day touring backpack (approx. 40 liters) with outside straps for ski attachment • Repair kit/spare parts for your bindings (optional) • Skin wax (a small amount) (*) SMG may be able to lend these items or to recommended you where they can be rented. Clothing: • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore Tex or similar) • Wind and waterproof over pants (Gore Tex or similar with integrated gaiters) • Fleece pullover or jacket and down/fleece vest • Warm pants (thin: insulated/fleece) and warm shirt (not cotton) • Capilene, fleece or wool underwear, top and bottoms • Gloves (lightweight and heavier weight) • Scarf, neck gaiter or bandanna • Sun hat, preferably with wide rim • 2 pairs of socks with thicker outer (wool) and thinner liners (polypro) • Wool or fleece hat, covering the ears Please note that the weather in West Kootenay can vary drastically. In the winter you can expect temperatures from -15°C to -5°C during the day while these could rise above zero in the spring. For clothing, we recommend the “layer system”, and light wear that doesn’t take much space in your backpack and dries quickly. Other items: • Sun glasses (with very good UV protection) • Sun screen and lip protection • Goggles • 1-liter water bottle or thermos flask (Camelbaks are not recommended) • Headlamp with spare battery and bulb • Personal items (prescription medicine, small blister kit/first aid kit, extra contact lenses and maintenance equipment, prescription glasses, etc.) • Camera (optional) • Lunch and snacks

Meeting point

Nelson city, British Columbia, Canada

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Photos


Itinerary

Day 1: Classroom day

We will discuss and watch videos on topics like:

  • Avalanche hazard recognition
  • Terminology and mechanics
  • Mountain weather
  • Snow pack structure
  • Basic terrain evaluation

We will review the required equipment, and then spend a few hours outdoors discussing rescue fundamentals and doing transceiver searches.

Day 2: Field day

We will meet at 8AM and drive to a ski touring location in the West Kootenay area. We will spend 8 hours in the mountains learning and practicing skills such as:

  • Terrain evaluation
  • Mountain hazard assessment
  • Safe route finding techniques
  • Snowpack analysis and snow testing techniques

At the end, participants will receive a Canadian Avalanche Association certificate and personal feedback.


About the guide

guide profile img

I am an IFMGA and ACMG-certified mountain guide based in Nelson, British Columbia. I'm the lead guide at Summit Mountain Guides, a guiding agency I co-founded back in 2007 and which offers year-round guiding services and courses in Canada and Europe.

The mountains of western Canada have been my playground since 1992. I'll be happy to take you mountaineering, backcountry skiing, rock climbing, hiking or ice climbing in this area I know so well. From day trips to multi-day adventures, I can guarantee an unforgettable and safe experience.

The SMG team of guides will help you with your trip's logistics, safety and contingency plans so that you get the most out of your backcountry experience and can just focus on having an amazing time on the mountain!


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Prices per person

Group of 6

CAD 232 each

Group of 7

CAD 232 each

Group of 8

CAD 232 each

Want a different number of travellers?

Price includes

• Guiding fee

Price details

• Please note that an extra field day can be added to this course, with a total cost of $350 per person (plus GST). The price also includes: class notes after the course, Avaluator™ Trip Planner (a tool that helps skiers and riders make critical decisions both before and during backcountry trips), "Backcountry Avalanche Awareness" book by Bruce Jamieson (prerequisite for taking the course). The price does not include: 5% GST; lunch and snacks; optional field book "Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain" by Karl Klassen, Pascal Haegeli and Roger Atkins; personal ski touring boots, skis, skins or split board; personal avalanche safety equipment (beacon, shovel and probe), available for rent at $25 per day; transportation to ski touring location; trip cancellation, adventure travel, and medical insurance; accommodation in Nelson.


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