*March 10th course is run over two consecutive weekends: March 10-11, 17-18, 2012.
$550 CDN includes 4 days of instruction, books and use of safety and snow study equipment. An AST 2 certificate will be issued on successful completion.*
*To be eligible for the AST 2 certificate participants must first have taken the AST 1 course through a CAC recognized provider. Yamnuska offers the AST 1 course on most weekends throughout the winter months. Please contact our office if you have any questions.
This program involves three days of backcountry ski touring in steep and variable terrain. You should be an advanced intermediate skier/split boarder with a high level of aerobic fitness. Previous avalanche training is not required, however to receive your AST 2 certificate you must have taken an AST 1 with Yamnuska or another provider in the past.
Avalanche Skills Training 2
AST 2 - Photo by Steve Burnham
Avalanche is the greatest hazard facing the winter backcountry traveller. To fully enjoy the backcountry it's crucial to be able to understand avalanche phenomena, recognize the terrain where avalanches occur and find routes that minimize risk.
If you're a serious backcountry skier or winter mountaineer wishing to build a solid knowledge base to safely expand your backcountry horizons then this is the course for you. It will be a valuable investment in your mountain safety and significantly increase your avalanche knowledge.
This is a hands-on program featuring extensive practical field experience augmented with one day of classroom theory. The curriculum is designed to give a solid grounding in the essentials and is based on the requirements set out by the Canadian Avalanche Center (CAC). Your instructors are guides seasoned in touring, heliskiing and forecasting. This program is suitable for those who have taken the AST 1 program in the past, or for experienced backcountry skiers looking to expand their skills.
For advanced skiers we also offer this four day program in Rogers Pass. This is one of the most exciting backcountry ski locations in Western Canada, and is a great spot to learn how to evaluate avalanche conditions to keep safe in steeper terrain.
Day 1: (At the Yamnuska Office in Canmore)
Introductions, goals and objectives, agenda
Review of AST1 program
Avalanche phenomena, formation and characteristics of avalanches
Avalanche Terrain Recognition, introduction to the Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale
Changes in mountain snowpack, snow metamorphism
Accessing and utilizing the Avalanche Danger Scale and Public Avalanche Bulletins
Program days will be spent in the backcountry on a tour designed for decision making. You will be in real avalanche terrain appropriate for the conditions, suited to group ability and the Avalanche Danger forecast for that day. Days are typically six to seven hours in the field.
Subject matter covered:
Proper back country travel preparation on avalanche terrain
Use of avalanche 'danger scale' and other information gathered by professionals
Use of the Avalauator 2 TM
Group management and safety in the backcountry
Avalanche terrain recognition
Route finding in avalanche terrain
Decision making in avalanche terrain
Snow profiles and stability tests such as the Compression Test and Rutsch Block
Weather, snow pack and avalanche activity observations
Snow stability analysis
Companion Rescue and group rescue skills including: avalanche transceiver use, single burials and multiple burials, shovelling and probing techniques
Note: Agenda may vary with field conditions and group abilities
NOTE ON RISK: The course takes place in the backcountry in a winter environment. Conditions can be harsh and you need to be adequately dressed to enhance your comfort and learning. During the day we will be travelling through avalanche terrain however, we do limit our exposure to avalanches so that we can operate in the program area no matter what the avalanche danger is for that given day. This can be a physically demanding course. Learning will be greatly enhanced if you are a comfortable rider or skier in all snow conditions. All of our guides/instructors carry first aid kits and emergency communication.
Instructors and Group Size
Yamnuska AST2 instructors are ACMG guides and professional members of the Canadian Avalanche Association. They are true practitioners with years of experience in the backcountry, practicing what they preach. We have been instrumental in the curriculum development of the AST2 course and a re proud sponsors of the Canadian Avlanche Centre.
On field days there is a maximum of 8 participants per instructor.
Dave Stark: Director of Operations for Yamnuska, IFMGA Mountain Guide and Professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association, Avalanche Operations Level 3. Dave has had more than thirty years of experience guiding and teaching avalanche awareness courses.
Jesse de Montigny: IFMGA Mountain Guide and professional member of the CAA, Avalanche Operations Level 2. Jesse is the Assistant Direct of Operations at Yamnuska.
James Blench: James is a long term senior guide and past Director of Yamnuska. He is a CAA examiner on the Level 2 and 3 CAA certification courses and serves as a subject matter expert for the Canadian Avalanche Association.
Steve Blagbrough: IFMGA Mountain guide and senior guide at Yamnuska, Steve is also a professional member of the CAA and Avalanche Operations Level 2. Prior to coming to Canada over ten years ago, Steve was an avalanche forecaster and guide in Scotland.
Grant Meekins: IFMGA Mountain guide and senior guide at Yamnuska, Grant is a certified teacher and professional member of the CAA, Avalanche Operations Level 2.
Canmore courses begin at 8:30 AM at our office in Canmore (Map). Our office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore, Alberta.
Day one will be mostly in the classroom with the possibility of going out in the afternoon for transceiver practice.
The next three days will be in various backcountry locations ranging from Kananaskis Country to locations along the Banff/Jasper Highway as far north as the Bow Summit area. Locations are dependant upon snow conditions.
Participants ares responsible for their own transport to Canmore and on the field days. Canmore is a 1 hour (100km) drive west from Calgary.
If you are flying from afar for the program we suggest that you rent a car for your visit. In addition to getting you to the program locations, it will allow you to explore our region a bit after program hours. For example you can visit Banff and enjoy the hot pools and sample the numerous restaurants.
Frequent shuttles connect Calgary International Airport and Canmore. Greyhound Bus Lines (1 800 661 8747) serves Canmore from points east and west along the Trans-Canada Highway.
Accommodation and Meals
These are not included in the course fees. There are lots of options available including hostels, B'n'Bs, motels and hotels in Canmore. Check accommodation options on our links page for our recommendations or we would be happy to make reservations for you at our preferred rates. The Alpine Club Clubhouse (403 678 3200) is a good hostel here in Canmore with nice facilities and reasonable prices.
Food is not supplied. On the classroom day we will take a one hour break for lunch as well as several smaller breaks. Coffee, tea and water are available free of charge at our office. We have a microwave oven which students can use to reheat lunches.
On the field day it is important to have lots of snack type high energy foods as well as at least one to two litres of fluid. We highly recommend bringing a Thermos type container for a hot drink. Due to the nature of the environment and winter temperatures we will often 'snack' along the way and often do not take an extended break for lunch.
Equipment and Clothing
Yamnuska supplies classroom materials, course manual (Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain), Companion Rescue Card and an Avaluator TM . On the field days Yamnuska will supply, upon request, avalanche transceiver with batteries, avalanche probe and avalanche shovel. We also supply group snow study kits and snow saw. You will need to bring:
Skis or Split Board
There are two ski systems you can use: System 1 '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. System 2 'Telemark' skis. These should only be used for this program if you are at least an advanced-intermediate telemark skier with some backcountry experience.
Snow Boards can be used on this program. If 'boarding' you need to be an advanced boarder and you must use a 'split' board. A snowboard and snow shoe combination is NOT acceptable. Please don't bring a board if you've never boarded in the backcountry before. Poles are essential for boarders.
Skis / Boards: if skis, either 'Alpine Touring' or Telemark. We recommend a short (160 - 185cm) wide ski designed for powder.
Ski poles (even if on snowshoes)
Climbing skins 'Stick-on type' (only required if using skis or split boards)
Avalanche transceiver (dual or triple antennae, digital type only. If you do not have a transceiver or have an analogue type, we will loan you a digital transceiver on request).
Shovel (collapsible avalanche shovel, loaners available on request).
Avlanche probe (loaners available on request).
Sunglasses and/or ski goggles
Thermos flask and/or water bottle (1 - 2 Liters)
Small Blister and Personal 1st-Aid Kit
Compass with clinometer
Yamnuska supplies but feel free to bring if you have:
Snow Study Kit
On the field days there can be prolonged periods of inactivity in very cold temperatures. Don't be afraid to bring extra layers. We suggest bringing light clothing of varying thicknesses that can be 'layered' to achieve comfort and versatility. The most important consideration for clothing is the ability to regulate temperature as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest. We discourage cotton clothing as it causes rapid heat loss when wet.
Synthetic or synthetic/wool blend underwear (top and bottom)
Warm pants (softshell, insulated or fleece)
Warm shirt (not cotton)
Sweater or fleece Jacket
Insulated jacket or vest
Waterproof jacket with hood (Gore-Tex or nylon)
Waterproof pants (Gore-Tex or nylon)
Socks (wool outer, synthetic blend liner)
Wool or fleece hat
Warm gloves and light glove liner
Gaiters, only needed if your ski pants are not elasticized at the ankle
Skis, Boots, Boards, Skins & Poles can be rented from:
Canmore: Gear Up - 1302 Bow Valley Trail (403 678-1636)
Please call our office if you have any questions.
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require full payment on registration. Our AST 2 courses are very popular. Many people book the AST 1 and AST 2 at the same time.
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident while here. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue so long as you have a valid National Park Entry Pass which you can obtain on entry to Banff National Park (cost $9).
There are two basic types of insurance that most travelers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue in the National and provincial Parks, however costs such as air or ground transportation, long term care and other services are not covered.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events. For these eventualities the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian and International Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance. For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website.