Your First Step to Accessing the Backcountry

The AST 1 - Avalanche Skills Training course is the long-established standard in introductory avalanche education. This course is designed to bring resort skiers into the backcountry with the foundational skills to understand avalanche formations and proper backcountry travel.  Also, this course will give students the prerequisites to pursue more advance professional or recreational avalanche training.

  1. Do you want to ski in the backcountry?
  2. Do you have intermediate or higher ski ability?
  3. Do you like learning in a group setting?

Then yes!

This course is for anyone who wants to make sure they are taking the appropriate steps to make smart decisions in the backcountry and the skills to ski fun lines.

The Goods

Length: Online + 1 day in the field

Locations: Whistler or Squamish BC

Prerequisites: Ability to hike uphill for 3 hours, Intermediate ski ability (black diamond runs)

Highlight Skills: Companion rescue, Snow assessment, Group management, Use of ski touring gear

Season: Scheduled dates all winter

Max Guide to Guest Ratio: 8:1 guest to guide

Price: Starting at $225



Day 1 (Online)

Complete online learning at your pace (4- 6 hours)

Day 2 (Whistler or Squamish)
8:00 am - Morning session
9:00 am - Field session

Whistler field day: Pass holders must reserve Whistler lift access. If you do not have a seasons pass backcountry passes are available $59

Squamish field days: Chains are required by BC parks to access the meeting location. Please reach out for assistance.

Is this for you

Those new to backcountry skiing or with limited experience. The ability to ski blue square runs in powder conditions is required.

  • Good ski or boarding ability. Blue square runs (just barely)
  • Basic understanding of gear (have put it all together at least once)
  • Moderate fitness - Can hike 2 to 3 hours/day.          


What you will learn

Our AST 1+ course is unique in that we are teaching participants the basic skills of avalanche phenomena, assessment, avoidance, and ski touring skills to access the backcountry. This course will cover both pillars of safe and efficient backcountry travel.

Avalanche Skills Training

  • Understand the basics of avalanche formation and release.
  • Identify avalanche terrain.
  • Pre-trip planning
  • Use of the Avaluator decision-making system
  • Using public avalanche bulletins
  • Travel in avalanche terrain (uphill and down)
  • Companion rescue. 

Online Learning

  • Avalanche Statistics
  • Snowpack Assessment
  • Defining Avalanche Problems
  • Avalanche Sizes
  • Terrain Assessment
  • Group Management
  • Applying Daily Forecast in the Field
  • Companion Rescue
  • Pre-trip Planning
  • Gear

Learn more about the online portion

Online Pre-Couse

Unique to Altus AST courses is our custom made #altusonlinelearning platform with over 13 courses available. Each course is built and instructed by one of our guides and is used to ensure you get the most out of your time in the field.

The AST 1 pre-course takes approximately 3 - 4 hours to complete and is a series of videos and presentations followed up with a final exam. The final exam requires a 60% pass to receive the AST 1 certificate.

Students will have access to this course for learning to revisit for 2 months from sign up.

I contacted five companies about setting up a custom mountaineering trip and Altus immediately got back to me with all sorts of helpful, informative details. They were much easier and better to work with than all the other companies.

- Michele G

I felt safe and secure, and I learned a ton. Great objective, great weather, great food, and great company - it doesn't get any better than this! Can't wait to get back out there with the Altus guides - don't leave home without 'em!

- Nigel B

Scheduled Courses - 2021/2022

All prices are in CAD and subject to 5% sales tax.


Weekend $245 / person

Nov 27th - March 26th

Weekday $225 / person

Dec 1st - March 30th


Weekend $245 / person

Dec 4th - March 27th

Weekday $225 / person

Dec 8th - March 23rd



$45 / course


$59 / day


Day 1 (Online)

Complete online learning at your pace (4- 6 hours)

Day 2 (Whistler or Squamish)
8:00 am - Morning session
9:00 am - Field session
(Lift tickets are necessary for Whistler, discounted backcountry passes are available upon booking $62)

What's Included
  • Course material (Decision-making handbook)
  • Access to the online course for 90 days
  • 1 days instruction from CAA members and ACMG guide
Not Included
  • Avalanche rescue equipment
  • Backcountry lift ticket
  • Transportation
  • Accommodation
Gear list

Avalanche Safety Gear

  • Avalanche Transceiver
  • Shovel: Collapsible aluminum shovel.
  • Probe: Normal length probe somewhere from 220cm to 320cm. 

*Available for rent at check out*


  • Ski touring skis: bindings, skins, poles or split board+skins
  • Ski touring/snowboard boots
  • Snow saw (optional)
  • Suitable day pack 30 - 40L


  • Waterproof/breathable jacket and pants
  • Lightweight, breathable jacket and pants (for uphill skinning/climbing)
  • Insulated jacket (synthetic insulated jacket is strongly recommended)
  • Lightweight gloves for climbing/skinning
  • Warm gloves
  • Warm hats
  • Balaclava or another type of neck warmer
  • Baselayers


  • Sunglasses
  • Goggles
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hat
  • ski strap
  • small personal ski repair kit
  • personal first aid, medication
  • Camera
Booking policy

Making a booking

Greater than 14 days from the start date

  • A 20% deposit is required to secure your guides and or trip. The remaining trip cost is due 14 days before the course date.

Less than 14 days from the start date

  • The trip cost must be paid in full

*Subject to change based on a particular trip/course

Forms of payment

Credit card: Visa, Mastercard

Email transfer:

Cheque: Only accepted 30 days before trip commencement


Greater than 30 days from the start date

  • The deposit will be refunded in full

30 to 14 days before trip commencement

  • The deposit amount will be forfeited

Less than 14 days

  • The full trip amount will be forfeited

*Subject to change based on a particular trip

*All cancellations must be received in writing

Cancellations by Altus Mountain Guides

Upon confirming your booking, we guarantee the trip departure. If we cancel a trip for any reason before the start date, a full refund will be provided. If we are forced to cancel a trip for any reason after the trip start date, a full refund for the trip's unused portion will be provided.

Trip cancellation insurance

Upon confirmation of your trip, Altus Mountain Guides enters into financial obligation and cannot refund payment or release you from your contractual obligation except for the condition stated below in “Cancellations.” Therefore, to avoid unnecessary cancellation penalties, cancellation insurance is strongly recommended if you can not participate or if your trip is interrupted “for any reason.” This is available from most travel companies. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding our policy or obtaining insurance.

Cancellation insurance

  • Tugo

Medical/Evacuation Insurance

All participants must have personal internationally accepted medical insurance for all activities on your trip, including emergency rescue and evacuation. With your insurance, please ensure you will be covered for “roped travel” if booking a technical trip.

*The required insurance depends on location


  • Insurance is free in the entire country


  • Private insurance is recommended


  • Mountain climbing rescue is free

Switzerland, Italy, Austria

  • Privates or alpine club insurance is required.

*Europe: We recommend the following: Austrian alpine club membership, REGA

Additional fees

Longer & more involved routes may have additional premiums, driving, accommodation, & food costs, depending on the trip.

Please contact us for details and a full quote.

All Altus AST courses are taught to the highest standard and follow the Avalanche Canada curriculum.


Still Have Questions or Concerns?

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions, concerns or requests on how we can make this the best trip ever!!!

About Ross Berg

Ross has guided, climbed and skied in the European Alps for the last several seasons. When he's at home he can be found working as a heli ski guide in winters and climbing alpine rock routes in summer.