Companion Rescue is your best chance of survival if you or one of your partners get buried. Time is of the essence and once the clock starts ticking, you want to be sharp and able to respond with a plan of action to be a lifesaver.
This one-day refresher course is designed for individuals who are looking to brush up and improve their avalanche rescue skills. Over the course of the day, we will cover the latest techniques for searching, probing, and shovelling while putting an emphasis on multiple burials. We will focus on group rescues and jump into patient care and preparing for a rescue from outside resources.
Day 1: 7:00am (MST)
- Welcome, introduction, goals and agenda, waivers
- Short classroom session before heading into the field
- Review Companion Rescue from AST1
- Talk about any changes since your last course
- Companion rescue instruction and practice with a magnitude of scenarios
- Multiple burials/looking beyond the single burial
- How to set yourself up for success when dealing with outside resources for a rescue
Please Note: This course is not the Avalanche Canada Companion Rescue Skills course
Instructors and Group Size
Yamnuska avalanche instructors are ACMG and IFMGA guides who are professional members of the Canadian Avalanche Association. Our instructors are certified CAA Level 2 Avalanche Operations and several of our guides are CAA Level 3 Avalanche Operations, the highest certification level in the CAA. They are true practitioners with years and in some cases, decades of experience in the backcountry, practicing what they preach. Yamnuska has been offering Avalanche courses since the late 1970s. We have been instrumental in the curriculum development of the AST 1 course and are proud of our rich history in training recreationists in Canada.
Group Size is a minimum of 4 participants with a maximum of 8 per instructor.
Meeting Time and Place
Meet at the Yamnuska Office (200-50 Lincoln Park, Canmore) at 7:00 am on the day of the program.
Transportation is not included in this program. We will rely on guest’s vehicles to reach the trailhead.
Canmore is situated 100km (65miles) west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is well served by scheduled bus lines both from Calgary (airport and downtown), Banff (20km west), and points further west. Calgary International Airport is well connected to major cities throughout North America and Europe. Vehicle rental is available both in Calgary and in Canmore. The trailhead for this program is a 2.5 – 3-hour drive from Canmore.
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 climbing locations, it will allow you to explore our region afterward.
Frequent shuttles connect Calgary International Airport and Canmore.
Accommodation and Meals
These are not included in the course fees. There are lots of options available including campgrounds, hostels, B’n’Bs, motels and hotels.
Yamnuska guests receive exclusive rates with Clique Hotels & Resorts upon booking an adventure with either Yamnuska Mountain Adventures or Canadian Rockies Hiking by Yamnuska. (Please note that some rates are non-refundable)
Food is not supplied. Bring plenty to drink and lunch plus energy snacks.
Equipment and Clothing
On the field day, Yamnuska will supply an avalanche transceiver, avalanche probe, and avalanche shovel. We recommend you bring your own transceiver, shovel, and probe if you have it. It is important to become familiar with the kit that you bring into the backcountry with you and know how to use it.
We recommend you bring:
- Skis/splitboard (with alpine touring bindings)
- Ski/snowboard boots (compatible with your bindings)
- Climbing skins
- Ski Helmet (optional)
- Daypack* (30-40 liters) *
- Thermos flask and/or water bottle (1-2 liters combined volume)
- Blister kit
- Hand Sanitizer
- Small repair kit for bindings, skis or splitboard (this may include straps, nuts, bolts, small Leatherman)
When Backcountry skiing, it is important to be able to adjust for the exertion of skiing uphill as well as the cooling-off that occurs while taking breaks. We recommend bringing clothing that can be layered to achieve comfort as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest. Cotton clothing is not appropriate as it causes rapid heat loss when wet.
We recommend you bring:
- Long underwear (top and bottoms, synthetic or wool)
- Socks – ski socks (wool or synthetic)
- Softshell jacket
- Midweight synthetic or down jacket
- Waterproof Hardshell jacket
- Waterproof Hardshell or softshell pants (make sure the cuff fits over ski boots)
- Heavyweight parka (big enough to put over all your other layers)
- Waterproof gloves
- Warm hat
- Face mask
Additional gear info:
- Skis/splitboard: There are two viable backcountry systems, Alpine Touring, and Splitboarding.
- Alpine Touring: Essentially downhill skis with a special touring binding which allows the heel to lift when going uphill and then locks down to become an alpine binding for the downhill.
- Splitboard: Snowboarders sometimes use a splitboard in the backcountry. This system is enjoyable on the descent, but frustrating on the flats. The transitions between uphill and downhill can also be very time-consuming. If using this system, please ensure that you are proficient at switching your bindings.
- Boots: Backcountry boots are different from regular alpine ski boots. In the backcountry, boots need to have an uphill mode that allows a free range of motion in the upper part of the boot. You should not use your regular ski boots for touring and walking uphill.
- Climbing skins: The glue on the base of the skin should be in good condition and the skins need to be properly fitted. Try the skins on your skis/splitboard to make sure they are the right length and width before you arrive.
- Ski poles: Backcountry poles need powder baskets on the tips.
- Avalanche beacon: A three antennae transceiver is required. Yamnuska uses the Backcountry Access Tracker S for all our winter programs.
- Probe: A minimum of 240 cm in length.
- Shovel: A metal blade shovel is required.
Skis, Boots, Skins & Poles for ski touring can be rented from:
- Calgary: Mountain Equipment Co-op. – 830-10 Ave. S.W. Calgary (Tel: 403 269-2420)
- Canmore: Gear Up – 1302 Bow Valley Trail (403 678-1636)
- Lake Louise: Wilson Mountain Sports – (1-866-929-3636)
*Please note that your ‘DIN’ or ‘Release Value’ settings on your ski bindings are critical to your safety while skiing. Our expectation is that everyone arrives on programs with their ski binding’s release value correctly set. We have noted that some ski rental shops will not set release values on touring bindings. We advise you to rent from a shop that will set release values on your ski touring bindings unless you are proficient and comfortable setting your own DIN/release value. Failure to have Release Values correctly set could result in a serious injury.
Yamnuska has avalanche beacons, shovels, and probes for rent. Rental Gear
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. We require full payment on booking. As a leading avalanche course provider, our courses do fill quickly.
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 a rescue so long as you have a valid National Park Entry Pass which you can obtain on entry to Banff National Park.
Please make yourself familiar with our detailed booking instructions and conditions.
Risk is an inherent part of all mountain activities. We strive to manage and reduce it however, it is impossible to totally eliminate. Learn more about our safety and risk management approach here. Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the program. Please view our sample waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travellers 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, 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 Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance. For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure trip.
$175 CDN includes instruction. You will need to bring avalanche safety equipment and adequate clothing and equipment for a backcountry ski tour (or snowshoes). GST is extra.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Participants must have previously taken an Avalanche Safety Training 1 course (AST 1). Proof of the previous enrolment will be required.
The minimum age is 13. We recommend participants 13-15 be accompanied by a parent. Note that transportation is not provided on this course. Participants will need to provide their own transportation or have it provided for them by a parent or friend.