Why choose our AST2?
Because you'll learn more.
Damian is a qualified ACMG guide.
Our AST2 courses have a buffer day for bad conditions.
You'll spend every evening planning backcountry trips with Damian at his house.
Limited to 5 people
The Avalanche Skills Training Level 2 (AST 2) course has been prepared by Avalanche Canada and provides an intermediate level of avalanche decision making. This is a recreational course. It does not train you to work in the avalanche industry.
We teach the prescribed Avalanche Canada course per the instructor's manual. Before enrolling, please understand that we will not teach you some magic trick to stay safe in avalanche terrain. What we will do is coach you in a very valuable process of planning backcountry trips, gathering field data and making adjustments to your tour as required to manage risk. This course doesn't focus on studying snow crystals nor a wide variety of stability tests.
Our AST2 course is run over 4 days, however it is spread across a 5 day window giving a buffer to avoid inappropriate conditions. This reflects how we should always approach the backcountry. Likewise, we will only take 5 students - afterall, who goes into the backcountry with 8 people? The intention of this course is to reflect prudent reality. We will have one classroom day, then the rest are in the backcountry.
OUR COURSE IS SPECIAL: One day in the classroom and three full days of backcountry touring using the excellent Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain fieldbook extensively. Class size is limited to only 5 people rather than the usual 8. This significant benefit allows personal and instant attention from the instructor, and also effective student interaction when trip planning and touring. Post-trip reviews and planning for the next day are all held in my (damian's) home, using my maps and photos projected onto a screen. As part of the course, you get to live my very active Hakuba backcountry life for 4 days.
- 4 days of instruction, with one buffer day.
- Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain fieldbook.
- Usually some homecooked after-tour snacks :-)
- AST 1 course or equivalent and be able to provide your certificate in advance.
- At least 20 days in backcountry AVALANCHE TERRAIN applying what you learnt in the AST 1 course (Avaluator, trip planning, using avalanche bulletins etc).
- Pre-course reading: Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain by Bruce Tremper.
The AST 2 is a separate 4 day course that comes after completing the AST 1. The first two days are not a repeat of AST 1 material.
Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain FieldbookThe entire course is tied together using the Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain fieldbook which has been developed by Avalanche Canada. Along with a pencil, this note book lives in your pocket and is intended to guide you through a structured decision making process for travelling in avalanche terrain. It is modelled after the methods used by avalanche professionals and is designed to help you plan your backcountry trip, record your observations, support your decision making in the field and aid post trip reflection. These are the primary components of comprehensive avalanche risk management.
What you will learn
The focus is maximising hands-on training in the backcountry with a very small class size to allow for valuable personal attention and the best learning possible. Under the supervision of instructors on the last day, students will plan and lead their own backcountry tour applying all that they have learnt.
Before deciding on an AST provider, perhaps compare curriculums. The AST Level 2 curriculum that we are proud to teach comes directly from the official Instructors Manual:
Class Theory Lessons
- AST 1 Review
- Introduce the Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain fieldbook
- Avalanche Types and Character
- Leadership and Travel in Avalanche Terrain
- Companion Rescue Theory
- Avalanche Decision Making Support Systems
- Terrain Investigation using maps and photos
- Post Trip Review Process
- Understanding Avalanche Danger
- Local Avalanche Danger Investigation & Verification
- Confidence in Decision Making
- Trip Planning
Field Practical Lessons
- Trailhead Procedures
- Group Management and Travel Techniques
- Companion Rescue
- Avalanche Terrain, Route Finding and Terrain Verification
- Investigating Avalanche Activity
- Investigating Signs of Unstable Snow
- Investigating Loading
- Investigating Thaw Instability
- Local Snowpack Observations*
- Personal Local Avalanche Danger Investigation
- Route Finding Options and Alternatives
* This includes conducting simplified Compression and Rutscheblock tests.
All participants MUST have their own mountain rescue insurance covering backcountry skiing and helicopter expenses.
- Splitboard and touring skis with skins. No snowshoes, sorry.
- Digital 3 antenna transceiver. This course will not teach using old analog opr single antenna transievers as they are now obsolete.
- 35 liter pack or larger
A detailed gear list will be provided after booking. Snow crystal loupes are not required as it is not part of the AST 2 curriculum.
Other important info
This course does not include personal emergency mountain rescue insurance. It is your personal responsibility to insure yourself against any expenses incurred if you are injured during the course.
Also, you will likely need to buy a one-ride lift ticket to access backcountry terrain from high in resort areas. These tickets typically cost 1,500 yen. Tips are not customary in Japan and any offered will be politely declined.
It is expected that you have the an dadvanced ability to ski/snowboard off-piste terrain with trees. The field days are reasonably strenuous.