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Advanced 4-day avalanche course in Nelson, British Columbia

Improve your avalanche awareness skills with this 4-day informative and practical course in the Canadian Selkirk Mountains led by IFMGA-certified mountain guide David. This is an intermediate to advanced program.

Mountain RangeColumbia Mountains
Duration4 days
Offer periodJan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Skill LevelIntermediate
Fitness LevelOccasional
Type of tripNot specified


The Avalanche Skills Training Level 2 (AST 2) is the highest recreational avalanche course, before the professional level. It follows the AST 1 and is the basis for further Canadian Avalanche Association training programs.

The course will contribute to increase skiers’ and snowboarders’ safety in backcountry outings. It will broaden their knowledge and sharpen their skills for a better decision-making process when winter travelling in avalanche terrain.

AST 2 will cover similar topics discussed in AST 1 with more focus on adapting personal exposure to weather conditions and field observations, as well as more practice. The following are a few examples of the covered topics:

  • Avalanche hazard recognition
  • Terminology and mechanics
  • Mountain weather
  • Basic terrain evaluation, snow pack analysis, and snow-testing techniques
  • Mountain hazard assessment
  • Safe route finding techniques
  • Transceiver searches and rescue fundamentals

The training program includes a 4-hour classroom session in the first evening and three field days in the mountains, followed by 2 classroom hours in the second and third nights. Lectures and discussions will be held in Nelson (535m), a city located in the Selkirk Mountains (3,519m), in the West Kootenay region, in southeastern British Columbia, Canada.

The field days will take place in an agreed practice site in the backcountry area near Nelson. Often venues include the Whitewater Ski Resort (2,000m), the Red Mountain Ski Resort (2,072m), 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 skiers or boarders with beginner to intermediate backcountry skills, and must have completed the Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 (must present a dated certificate).

Join this course and increase your safety in the backcountry. Send me your booking request now!

If you haven’t taken the Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 yet and would like to do so, please register here.



Any accommodation in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada

More info

Before the course, you must read “Staying Alive” by Bruce Tremper. You must also make sure you have the most recent version (2010) of Avaluator™ Trip Planner (received in AST 1). 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) • Avalanche transceiver (475 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




Day 1: Evening classroom session

We will meet for a 4-hour session during the evening. 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 also check the required equipment.

Day 2 to 4: Field days

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

  • Avalanche hazard recognition
  • Terminology and mechanics
  • Mountain weather
  • Snow pack structure
  • Basic terrain evaluation
  • Mountain hazard assessment
  • Safe route finding techniques
  • Snow pack analysis and snow testing techniques
  • Transceiver searches and rescue fundamentals

On the evening of the second and third days, we will have a 2-hour classroom session.

At the end of the course, 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 459 each

Group of 7

CAD 459 each

Group of 8

CAD 459 each

Want a different number of travellers?

Price includes

- Guiding fee

Price details

The price also includes AST 2 class notes and Canadian Avalanche Association certificate.

The price does not include: GST 5%; lunch and snacks; “Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain” by Bruce Tremper (you must purchase/borrow it and read it before the course); optional field book “Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain” by Karl Klassen, Pascal Haegeli and Roger Atkins; 2010 Avaluator™ Trip Planner (received in AST 1; contact CAC for replacement card); 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 touring location; lift fee if applicable (for your reference, one way Whitewater fee is $21; Red Mountain fee is $25); trip cancellation, adventure travel, and medical insurance; accommodation in Nelson.

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