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The Alpine Club of Canada

Advanced Decision Making in Avalanche Terrain

Take your Avalanche Skills to an Advanced Level this Winter

This course has been custom built by the ACC’s Lead Winter Guide (and avalanche expert) Doug Latimer and is for those of you who have taken an AST2 course but still want to develop your avalanche skills further. 

While most avalanche courses analyze the snowpack at a specific point in the season, the aim is to get you understanding how conditions develop dynamically over the course of a full winter . This course is comprised of a classroom weekend in November, field weekends in January and March, and continuous email discussion with your group and guide.

You’ll be analyzing the avalanche hazard as it develops week by week, location by location, all with Doug’s hands-on coaching and supervision, and a copy of his avalanche e-book (included in your course fee).

For 2023/2024 we will be doing the classroom sessions online via Zoom.

 
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BOOKING INFORMATION

Date:

Classroom Session 

DECEMBER 9TH – 10TH, 2023

Field Days:

JANUARY 13TH – 14TH, 2024

&

APRIL 13TH-14TH, 2024

Price: $1200 + TAX

Before registering, please review our Waivers and Liability page.

MORE INFORMATION

Please try to register online before calling. If you are having issues please try to have your emergency contact information and course questionnaire filled out before calling.

OR Call: (403)-678-3200 ext 213

Backcountry Skiing Hazards

  • Avalanche
      • Avalanches can occur in the terrain you will be entering. Caused by natural forces, or by people travelling through the terrain  

    What are the risks

      • Anyone caught in a avalanche is at risk of personal injury, death, and or property damage or loss

    Hazard Mitigation

    • Our ACMG certified guides have experience and training to manage this risk
    • Daily risk assessment processes
    • Guest training
  • Terrain
      • Cornices
      • Crevasses
      • Trees, tree wells, and tree stumps
      • Cliffs
      • Creeks
      • Rocks and Boulders
      • Variable and difficult snow conditions
      • Impact or collision with other persons or objects
      • Encounters with domestic or wild animals
      • Loss of balance or control
      • Becoming lost or separated from the group
      • Slips, trips, and falls

    Hazard Mitigation

    • Our ACMG certified guides have experience and training to manage this risk
    • Radios and/or other communication devices
  • Boots and Binding systems
    • Even when set up correctly, a ski binding might not release during every fall or may release unexpectedly. The ski boot/binding system is no guarantee that the skier will not be injured. Non-DIN-certified bindings, such as pin/tech bindings, present a higher risk of pre-release and/or injury as they are not designed to the same safety standards as a DIN-certified alpine binding.
    • Unlike alpine ski boot/binding systems, snowboard and some telemark boot/binding systems are not designed or intended to release and will not release under normal circumstances. Using such a system increases the risk of injury and/or death when caught in an avalanche.
  • Communication, rescue, and medical treatment
      • Communication can be difficult and in the event of an accident rescue and treatment may not be available
      • Adverse weather may also delay the arrival of treatment or transportation out of the field,
      • Alpine weather conditions can be extreme and change rapidly without warning making travel by helicopter, snowmobile, snowcat, dangerous
      • If an injury occurs in challenging terrain movement to an evacuation point may be slow

    Hazard Mitigation

    • Your guide is trained in both backcountry first-aid and rescue techniques
    • Emergency response plans
    • Satellite communication tools
  • Other
      • Slips trips and falls indoor or outdoor
      • Infectious disease contracted via direct or indirect contact, including but not limited to influenza or Covid-19
      • Equipment failure
      • Negligence of other persons, including other guests
      • Negligence of the guide Including failure to to take reasonable steps to safeguard or protect you from or warn you of risk, dangers, hazards, oh participating in ACC activities

    Hazard Mitigation

    • Your guide is trained in both backcountry first-aid and rescue techniques
    • Satellite communication tools

The material covered in this program will take you beyond the AST2 curriculum. Unlike a professional-level certification, the focus isn’t on snow science. While we’ll discuss snow assessments and their role in the decision-making process, we’re focused on the whole decision-making framework with extensive discussion on the components that influence hazard management and decision-making in avalanche terrain. Some of the topics your guide will discuss include:

 
  • Current research and industry case studies
  • Your understanding of your own personal development as a backcountry user
  • Your personal risk tolerance
  • Your role in a group or as a leader
  • Weekend 1 (classroom days)

    Participants meet at 9:00am MST at the ACC Clubhouse. Instructions will be sent out the week before. Curriculum topics which will be covered this day include:

    • Review of the basic principles of avalanche phenomena
    • Advanced snowpack metamorphism – what actually drives change in the snowpack
    • Advanced snow science: snowpack layering, crystal shapes, temperature gradients
    • Advanced trip planning considerations
    • Identifying hazards

    Weekend 2 and 3 (field days)

    Meeting times will always be 9:00am MST, however, locations and objectives will vary each day. You can guarantee that you will be out in the field with your instructor(s), typically either in Kananaskis Country or the Icefields Parkway, making real-life observations and gaining hands-on experience. Together, the group will decide the best place to ski ahead of time based on current avalanche conditions and weather. Curriculum topics which will be covered over these days include:

    • Advanced hazard identification and mitigation
    • Advanced group management & decision making
    • Advanced snowpack observations & snow stability analysis
    Our field day will see a maximum participant-to-guide ratio of 6:1 to make for the best possible learning experience. Fields days usually end around 4:00pm MST (back at the cars).

    Throughout the Winter:
    Between course weekends you will receive communications from Doug about changes in the snowpack, case studies, incident reports and are encouraged to bring things forward to the group as well. This will be a winter long discussion.
Advanced Level

Participants must have taken the AST 2 course either through the ACC or another provider. Participants should also have a good amount of backcountry skiing experience, possess intermediate to advanced ski technique, and have good all round fitness. We recommend having at least 2 years of backcountry experience since your AST 2 course.

Food

To keep the cost of this camp as low as possible for you, food is not provided on this camp. Be sure to bring along a packed lunch and your favourite snack to fuel the field days!

Accommodation

Accommodation is not included in this course. 

Guiding

Our Lead Ski Guide Doug Latimer oversees all our avalanche training programs. Doug has almost 20 years of experience in teaching AST and other winter instructional courses, as well as ski guiding. He also recently authored his very own avalanche e-book which is included in your course fee. We are extremely excited to have him on board for a third season after rave reviews for the past two years.

The ACC hires guides certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG). Visit the ACMG website to learn more about what they do!

 
 
 
 
Rentals

If you don’t have everything on the gear list and aren’t ready to invest in your own, there are many awesome local businesses that rent out all of the equipment you will need.  Be sure to reserve your rentals ahead of time to make sure everything you need is available for you when you need it.

  • Coming from the Bow Valley? Check out GearUp in Canmore. ACC members get 10% off all gear rentals!
  • Coming from Calgary? We recommend renting your gear from MEC, the University of Calgary Outdoors Center, or the Norseman.
  • Coming from the Revelstoke? Give Revelstoke Powder Rentals a try.

Doug Latimer

Doug has 20+ years of guiding experience behind him as an ACMG ski guide and an ACMG apprentice rock guide. As well as his private guiding he has spent a number of years working for the UoC where he taught a range of instructional programs in avalanche training, crevasse rescue and backcountry ski and ski mountaineering. He also somehow finds time to run a multimedia production company! On top of all that, we are lucky to have Doug as our lead winter guide, where he shares his fantastic enthusiasm and extensive knowledge throughout our winter programs.

Doug Latimer

We sell Tugo® Travel Insurance suitable for both ACC Adventures and personal trips:

INCLUDED WITH YOUR CAMP FEE

  • 6 days instruction by ACMG certified ski guides 
  • Audio-visual avalanche presentation created by Doug Latimer
  • Online avalanche book by Doug Latimer
  • Communication with Doug throughout winter on changing snowpack

PARTICIPANTS MUST PROVIDE

  • Transportation to and from the field locations
  • Accommodation
  • Meals and lunches
  • Personal gear (see gear list)

ORGANIZING FANTASTIC ACC ADVENTURES FOR OVER 100 YEARS

  • Local Knowledge – based out of Canmore, AB, we know the Rockies region and the best local caterers, guides and porters
  • Dedicated resources – full-time office staff, ACMG guides and group equipment on-hand to ensure your trip runs smoothly
  • Not-for-profit – any money we make on camps and courses is reinvested into providing services for our members and the mountain community