Here is what we will teach you in detail. Before deciding on an AST provider, perhaps compare curriculums. The following is all first taught in the classroom. The final day applies these skills in the field and you will back in the carpark by 4.30pm latest. Our course NEVER run over time or finish in the dark. We stick to the schedule.
The AST Level 1 curriculum that we are proud to teach is as follows:
Formation and Nature of Avalanches
Starting with the very basics of snow layering, vital signs of instability and the importance of always observing snow and paying attention in the mountains. We then move onto the different types avalanches, including categorising by size and destructive force.
How to recognise it, with focus on the key characteristics of avalanche start zones and within them, areas of weakness where triggering an avalanche is more likely.
Why they are so dangerous, and why you should minimise your exposure to them when possible.
Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale (ATES)
An introduction to the concept of classifying mountain snow terrain by it's seriousness. Similar to how climbing routes or even scuba dives are ranked. Learn to look at terrain differently. An essential part of trip planning.
Avalanche Danger Ratings and Public Avalanche Forecasts
The second second part to trip planning. How to read them and understand the very useful info they contain. Hakuba now has a world-class avalanche bulletin provided by the Japan Avalanche Network, which we will us in our training. (See the Hakuba avalanche bulletin here
Decision making Competence
This is a compulsory subject that must be taught in all AST1 courses and it makes perfect sense why. We discuss the differing levels of training and experience that will help move you up the competency spectrum, and what decision making support systems you might use at each level. The purpose of this is to remind ourselves that overstepping our training and experience often leads to avalanches. This is a reality check.
One of the fundamental pillars of a well taught AST 1 course. Trip planning is broken into four sections:
When and where to go
Who to go with: Human Factors
What equipment to take
The second pillar to w well taught AST1 course. We will use Avalanche Canada's essentialSlope Evaluation Card as a systematic way of assessing the safety of a slope. All the fundamental tools in your tool box will be combined at this stage to provide you with an amazing method of slope evaluation. It is from here on that you will start to develop a mountain brian that thinks like an avalanche. Many students have an "a-ha!" moment when they see that understanding the interaction between snow and terrain shape is the key to avalanche safety.
Good Travel Habits
How should you move through the mountains? What are the basic skills, and what skills are required to move through avalanche terrain, particularly as a coordinated group. How do you use terrain to minimise exposure to avalanche hazard? We finish this session with a number of exercises planning routes using local terrain photographs. Everyone usually loves the lesson.
No matter how well trained and experienced you are in avoiding avalanches, you need to be equally as well trained in rescuing your friends if something goes wrong. After 30 minutes of burial, you only have a 20% chance of still being alive. Twenty minutes of burial is not much prettier! So we focus on applying the most modern techniques of using the most advanced avalanche transceivers to save time. But it doesn't stop there: strategic probing and shoveling is also taught, and makes a huge difference. During the field day you will take part in at least 2 rescue scenarios. We prefer to split you into smaller groups to practice the scenarios. Although this takes more time, you will learn much more this way. At the end of the day you will take part in the most realistic scenario we can create over a large piece of sloped terrain.
At the end of all that you will be well prepared to go into the backcountry and make good decisions so long as you apply what you leant.