A group of keen outdoor enthusiasts and committed backcountry skiers just finished up the AST 2 – our Avalanche Skills Training 2 course. And what a week it was to study the changes in the snowpack with snow falling every one of the four days we did our training!
The first day of the course is an advanced theory day in our classroom that builds on the AST 1 curriculum. Although everyone had a lot of backcountry skiing days to their credit, the big take away for each person was that without advanced training their avalanche experience level was ‘novice’. Being honest with yourself on your true level of experience can be difficult but it is important. Taking the AST 2 will accelerate your backcountry and avalanche decision making skill level. It’s an intensive course but you’ll learn a lot.
For our three field days we spent time in Banff and Kananaskis doing snow study and stability tests to deepen everyone’s understanding of the avalanche bulletins. Our objective was to study the avalanche bulletins each morning, then go out into the backcountry and look for our own clues to add to the park bulletins. And oh yeah, we shredded the powder the group determined was safe to ski.
With between 30 and 50cm of new snow that fell in the Rockies we saw storm snow, wind slabs, and we studied the faceted layers that get mentioned in the avalanche bulletins every day. We did a lot of digging but I’d say the lines we got to ski made it all worthwhile. Some lines were so good we had to do multiple laps!
Stay safe out there.
Simon Robins – Yamnuska Guide