AST-1 Avalanche Safety Training and Backcountry Snowshoeing Course – Vancouver

This snowshoe specific avalanche and backcountry travel course is taught by Roger Bean our ACMG Hiking Guide and former park ranger. Snowshoeing is a great way for hikers to experience the winter backcountry environment. With the increase in popularity of snowshoeing on the local North Shore mountains, more and more hikers are getting into serious avalanche terrain without even realizing it. This course teaches you the essential skills in reducing the risk for yourself and your hiking partners.

Students will develop a knowledge base of avalanche theory, avalanche terrain identification, and snowpack analysis. You will also learn practical skills such as interpreting a public avalanche bulletin, use BC Parks ATES ratings, and companion rescue.

We go beyond the AST course content and teach snowshoe specific content for trip planning, equipment selection, navigation, and backcountry travel techniques.

A course with Roger is always fun, engaging, and you may learn a extra thing or two about local wildlife!

Who’s it for?

  • New and experienced snowshoers
  • Fitness for up to 2-3 hours of travel per day

The AST component is based on national course standards developed by Avalanche Canada.

The course is located in Vancouver, Cypress Park, and Mount Seymour Park. In the event that the local North Shore mountain snowpack conditions are not suitable, alternate locations will be used: Coquihalla or Squamish.


Scheduled Courses – 2019/2020

November 28 (Evening), 30, December 1 $325 CAD/person
Dec 5 (Evening), 7, 8 $325 CAD/person
December 26 (Evening), 28, 29 $325 CAD/person
January 23 (Evening), 25, 26 $325 CAD/person
February 6 (Evening), 8, 9 $325 CAD/person
March 5 (Evening), 7, 8 $325 CAD/person
March 19 (Evening), 21, 22 $325 CAD/person

Important: You will be required to sign a waiver at the beginning of your course or guided trip. Please ensure you have read and understood the waiver prior to the course start date.

Avalanche Course Waiver: AvalancheCanadaWaiver2019.pdf

Small group size (Maximum 8 students)
CAA Instructor or ACMG Guide
“Backcountry Avalanche Awareness” Book
Avaluator V.2 Manual and decision making card
Course student handouts and reference materials
50% off refresher Companion Rescue Skills courses
Avalanche Equipment (Free at MEC with AST1 cert)

Thursday Evening Session: MEC Vancouver

  • 7pm to 9pm, Thursday: Classroom Session
  • Meeting location: MEC Vancouver, 130 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC
  • Session Goals: Course introduction, equipment review, pack contents, current conditions, phone apps for course (avalanche and navigation), AST course material
  • What to bring: Pencil and notebook, any of your own touring/avalanche equipment you would like to ask instructor about

Saturday: Cypress Provincial Park Backcountry

  • 08:30am to 4:30pm: Backcountry travel and companion Rescue Skills
  • Meeting location: 8:30 am at Parking Lot 4a, Cypress Mountain
  • Session Goals: Public bulletin interpretation, basic weather forecasts, ATES ratings, trip planning, companion rescue, trailhead procedures, efficient uphill track setting, avalanche terrain identification.
  • What to bring: Please arrive dressed and ready to go for a day in the field. Bring the equipment listed in “equipment” tab.

Sunday: Mount Seymour Backcountry

  • 08:30am to 4:30pm: Backcountry travel and safe travel techniques
  • Meeting location: 8:30 am at Mt Seymour Trailhead Kiosk
  • Session Goals: Safe travel techniques to minimize risk, avaluator slope assessment tool, downhill travel, what to do if caught in an avalanche, intro to snowpack analysis
  • What to bring: Please arrive dressed and ready to go for a day in the field. Bring the equipment listed in “equipment” tab.

You will need the following gear for your day:

  • Snowshoes and hiking poles
  • Avalanche kit: transceiver (digital), probe, shovel
  • Medium sized backpack (20 to 30l)
  • Warm clothing: synthetic or wool. no cotton!
  • Down or synthetic puffy jacket
  • Waterproof pants and jacket (Goretex)
  • Two pairs of gloves/mitts
  • Lunch, snacks, & water
  • Sun glasses
  • Sun screeen
Winter hiking and snowshoeing
Winter hiking and snowshoeing
Snow profile
Arcteryx Group AST-1 Mount Seymour
North Shore Mountains, Vancouver, British Columbia
Backcountry Travel Cypress Park
Snowpack Column Test
Avalanche Companion Rescue Training, Cypress Provincial Park, British Columbia