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Whistler Avalanche Courses with Extremely Canadian

The Dream: untouched powder with no lift lines.

The backcountry options in the Sea to Sky are seemingly endless. From the top of Whistler or Blackcomb, tantalizing backcountry ski & snowboard terrain stretches to the horizon everywhere you look. Travel in pretty much any direction in the Coast Mountains and there’s even more untouched powder, and even less people. If you’re fit and you have the right gear it’s accessible and begging to be shredded.

Whistler Avalanche Safety Training 1

The Tools: gear to gain access.

So this is the year you’ve decided to take the plunge and become a backcountry skier. You’ve got everything you need to ride sick untracked pow everytime you go outside of the resort boundaries – you’ve got skis with touring bindings and skins to allow you to climb uphill, you’ve got the backpack which holds your shovel and probe and you’ve got an avalanche beacon strapped on your chest… but do you have the knowledge?

Do you know how to select your routes, both uphill and down, to avoid triggering an avalanche? Do you know what to do if you or a friend are caught in an avalanche?

Don’t kid yourself, it’s not just your life you are putting at risk, if you answered no to any of these questions then you have no right to be in the backcountry. But don’t worry Extremely Canadian has you covered in the Avalanche Skills department.

The Requirement: knowledge to stay safe.

Avalanche Skills Training (AST) courses teach you how to be aware of dangerous snowpack conditions, and travel in the safest way possible to avoid being in the path of an avalanche. Despite countless amounts of knowledge, even the most experienced mountain adventurers can still be caught in a slide. This is why the AST courses also prepare backcountry travelers with avalanche rescue skills. 

Whistler Avalanche Safety Training 3

Extremely Canadian knows that avalanche safety and knowledge are critical skills for backcountry users to learn & practice frequently. They offer entry level Avalanche Skills Training (AST 1) courses every weekend at Whistler Blackcomb. They also offer AST 2 and Glacier Travel courses which are highly advised for avid backcountry users in this region. 

If you don’t have the time to be educated on avalanche risks there is no alternative than going with a ACMG (Association of Canadian Mountain Guide) certified guide. You can join a group tour or hire a private guide to get the most out of your day in the mountains in the safest way possible. 

Whistler Avalanche Safety Training 2

AST 1

Extremely Canadian’s AST 1+ course provides an entry-level decision-making framework for recreational skiers and snowboarders in winter backcountry avalanche terrain. This comprehensive 2.5 day program is a blend of practical field days and indoor theory based on curriculum as established by Avalanche Canada.

Spending double the time in the field compared to other course providers, they maximize the critically important outdoor field-based terrain assessment aspects of travelling in the backcountry.

AST 2

The AST 2 course is designed for the serious and experienced backcountry traveller. This course expands on theories and principles established in the AST 1 course and incorporates extensive practical field sessions in real avalanche terrain to properly assess the potential hazards. Implementing a systematic approach for assessing and evaluating the potential avalanche hazard is the framework for this four day course.

Whistler Avalanche Safety Training 4

Glacier Travel

The Crevasse Rescue / Glacier Travel Course is a must-do for ski touring and splitboarding in South Western British Columbia. Glacial travel is a reality of touring here and can be one of the most dangerous and limiting parts of a backcountry day. 

This course is designed for experienced backcountry skiers and boarders and will help you develop safe travel skills for glaciated ski traverses, bringing new lines within your reach. If you intend to spend any amount of time travelling in glaciated terrain, this intensive and comprehensive two- day program provides the foundations of roped glacier travel and crevasse rescue. Up and downhill travel techniques, rigging for glacier travel, snow anchor construction, initial load transfers, and self-rescue are the focus of day one. Raising systems (modern and improvised) with up to 6:1 mechanical advantage is the focus of the final day.

The answer.

This may seem serious (because it is) but it shouldn’t be overwhelming. It’s simple; take one of the weekly AST courses to gain the knowledge you need to stay safe in the backcountry and practice your skills frequently.

If you aren’t confident in your avalanche knowledge then only go into the backcountry with a certified guide. Contact Extremely Canadian for all of your backcountry needs.

Photo Credits: Rachel King