AST1 Cain - For Skiers and Boarders

As low as:

$350.00 / person

(at 8:1 ratio)


Avi Kit rental $30.00

Avalanche kit rental includes transceiver, shovel and probe. If you are bringing your own avi kit, this must include a modern, digital, 3-antenna transceiver, and a solid shovel and probe. If you do not have all three of these things then you must rent a kit from us to take part. Avi Kits once rented are non-refundable.

Island Turns and Tours Guidebook $69.00

Save on postage and have this indispensable trip planning guide delivered to you at your course. With well over 500 Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale rated Island tours, this guidebook allows you to apply the learning from your IAG/HVI course to doing real trips in the mountains.


Looking to ride in the backcountry this winter? This Avalanche Skills Training 1 (AST1), based at Mount Cain, is an introductory course geared towards recreationalists with little to no experience in avalanche terrain. It’s also suitable for those with some experience who are looking for more formalized training. AST1 is recommended for anyone venturing into avalanche terrain outside of ski area boundaries.
Each course provides a theory session and a practical field session. Students are provided with take-home reference materials and tools which provide clear and effective learning progressions, emphasizing important knowledge and skills. 
This ski/board course at Mount Cain benefits from T-bar access from the resort on the field day, providing a quick approach to excellent terrain for touring, learning, and riding.

If you'd like us to run a course at Mount Cain for your group, please read our “logistics” tab, and contact us to discuss.


  • Understand the basics of avalanche formation and release
  • Recognize avalanche terrain
  • Develop a pre-trip plan
  • Use the Avaluator decision-making system
  • Interpret avalanche bulletins
  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain (uphill and down)
  • Slope scale assessment
  • Enact a companion rescue


  • 2 days of instruction with a certified instructor
  • Certificate of completion
  • Avalanche Skills Training Handbook
  • Avaluator Trip Planner/Slope Assessment Tool
  • Avalanche Canada student fee

Not Included: 

  • MCAPS membership (
  • Mount Cain Lift Tickets (specially priced 1 or 2 ride lift tickets for this course would be purchased in person @ Mount Cain)
  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Personal equipment 
  • Avi Kit (transceiver, shovel, probe – available as an add-on)

Questions? Check out our FAQ page for details about our booking and cancellation policy, and other commonly asked questions.


Mount Cain is a volunteer-run ski hill located about 20km from Woss on Northern Vancouver Island.

Given the remote location of this course, logistics may vary. Any specifications will be noted in the booking tab with the corresponding date.

Typically Cain courses are best run for contiguous groups, or groups that have accommodation already sorted with space for a classroom, and the ability to accommodate an instructor (COVID allowing). If accommodation is not available to you, we are also willing to offer this course as three evening theory sessions held virtually, with one field day at Mount Cain.

About Mount Cain & Amenities

  • Volunteer-run ski hill located 20 km from Woss - see driving directions here
  • The road to Mount Cain is a serious mountain road and requires chains and winter tires 
  • Washroom facilities available
  • To use the lifts or rent accommodation at Mount Cain, you must be a MCAPS member - membership can be purchased for $20 and goes towards supporting the hill
  • There is no potable water (rental cabins supplied with water jugs, otherwise please bring what you require)
  • Parking lot is often used for car camping (there may be other groups using this area, so please be respectful of others by keeping the noise to a minimum and packing out what you pack in)
  • Check out Mount Cain’s accommodation rental page for accommodation details

If you enjoy using these facilities, please consider donating or volunteering for this volunteer run operation. Learn more about Mount Cain here, and read driving directions to Mount Cain here.

If you are interested in holding a course at Mount Cain, please get in touch.


Avalanche Canada requires a minimum of 4 hours of classroom time and 7 hours in the field. Our courses exceed all the minimum time requirements set by Avalanche Canada. 

Each day will typically go from 8:30 to around 17:00, however, timing depends on weather, conditions, the group and how quickly the instructor can move through the necessary material. We will send out a group email in the week leading up to your course start date to confirm details, but here is a general idea of what to expect: 

Day 1

8:30 – Begin with a classroom session to develop some basic concepts including avalanche formation, avalanche terrain and avalanche rescue theory. 

From there we typically head off into the snow to put some of this theory into practice for the remainder of the daytime portion of day one. 

Once we have changed out of our ski clothes and had a quick dinner, we settle in for an evening classroom session to prepare us for the following day’s field session. 

Day 2

8:30 – Begin your day in the field. You will spend the day entirely outside looking at real avalanche terrain, learning how to identify it and to move through it with an emphasis on route selection and group management. 

We wrap up day two with a demonstration of snow analysis to introduce the concept of layering within the snowpack. The last day of the course usually wraps up by around 17:00.
Questions? Check out our FAQ page for details, or send us an email. 


Avalanche Skills Training 1 is an introductory avalanche course designed for individuals with little to no avalanche related experience. However, to register for our ski and board course, we ask that you: 

  • Are a strong intermediate skier or boarder (able to ride blue square-equivalent runs comfortably and safely in natural, ungroomed conditions)
  • Have a basic understanding of your gear, and any limitations (consider practicing with your transceiver beforehand and your transitions with your touring set up in and out of walk and ride mode) 
  • If you do not have touring gear and will be using skis / a snowboard for the course - you must carry snowshoes in a backpack for use on the uphill portions of the course and be prepared to carry your skis/snowboard uphill. 
  • Are prepared to spend the day outside in variable conditions (please see gear list)
  • Have access to a vehicle with winter tires and chains

Pre-course study 

To help you prepare and get the most out of your course, we recommend some pre-course study. Avalanche Canada’s online avalanche tutorial is a great resource.

If you do not feel you meet these requirements, in particular the riding ability, you may consider registering for our "AST1: Snowshoe" course at Mount Washington. 

Questions? Check out our FAQ page, or send us an email. We are always happy to help you find a suitable course or customize something to suit your needs.

Gear List

The equipment list provided aims to prepare you to be comfortable in the field regardless of the weather. Please ensure that all your gear is functioning and in proper repair. If you have any questions, send us an email: [email protected] 

Avalanche Safety Gear

These items are available as an add on “avalanche kit” when you book, or by request for $15/day.

  • Avalanche Transceiver (must be a modern, digital three-antenna)
  • Shovel: Collapsible aluminum shovel
  • Probe: Normal length probe somewhere from 220cm to 320cm


  • Ski touring skis/splitboard (snowboarders may also go uphill on snowshoes with their board on their pack for descents)
  • Ski Poles with big baskets
  • Skins
  • Ski touring/snowboard boots
  • Day pack (30 - 40L, or whatever will fit your gear)


  • 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 hat
  • Balaclava or another type of neck warmer
  • Baselayers (top and bottom)


  • Water
  • Lunch (and whatever snacks you require) 
  • Sunglasses
  • Goggles
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hat
  • Ski strap
  • Personal first aid (e.g. blister kit, medication)
  • Camera
  • Notebook and pencil (Rite in the Rain recommended)


Avalanche Kit: We offer rental transceivers, shovels and probes as an add-on kit when you book or by request pre-trip. If you do not have your own modern, digital, three antenna transceiver, collapsible shovel, and/or probe - please request a rental kit prior to your course/trip.

Touring Gear: 'Ski Tak Hut' in Courtenay ( offers backcountry ski and splitboard rentals. Clients on IAG courses and trips are eligible to receive a unique 25% discount code towards their gear rentals from Ski Tak Hut - for the duration of their course/trip with us. These discount codes are distributed directly by IAG to our clients upon request. Rentals from Ski Tak Hut can be ordered online using the unique discount code. Note you will be asked to show the booking confirmation you received from us when you pick up your gear.

Winter 4x4 Vehicle(s): 'Far Out Wilderness' ( is a 4x4 vehicle rental service in Victoria that offers clients access to a fleet of rugged, reliable, and fully-equipped vehicles designed to conquer the most challenging winter terrain. Their vehicles come with snow tires with the 3 peak mountain symbol, chains, and ski racks. They also provide emergency equipment, including SOS, SPOT messenger systems, GPS, tire pump, toe rope, tire pressure gauge, a map to BC's backcountry roads, and a first aid kit. Everything you need to get safely to the ski slopes! Upon request, IAG clients can receive a 5% discount code towards their rentals from 'Far Out Wilderness'.

Questions? Check out our FAQ page for information about gear fitting, rentals, add ons, and other commonly asked questions, or send us an email.


You did a great job with making the course professional while keeping it entertaining and fun. I felt you did a great job of balancing the safety and technique messages while keeping it realistic and relating it to real situations and decision making. I would and have recommend the AST1 course to anyone who wants to explore any out of bounds areas whether they are skiers, boarders, snowshoe or hikers. I really liked the layout of the course and how you used what we were actually seeing (good and bad techniques) and experiencing as learning tools instead of just using theory. I am eager to get out and put some of my new skills to practice and continue learning in the outdoors! Tod Gilbert, Nanaimo, BC.
Just wanted to thank you for a great weekend. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Shauna Mack, Port McNeill, BC.
Thank you for offering a great course! Lots of information in just two days! Keiko Arakawa, Campbell River, BC.
Thanks again for a great course; it was so great to do the course on my home turf, because I now see that terrain in a whole new light. It actually made me more confident about going into avalanche terrain back there, because I have some tools to assess the risk appropriately. Jimmy Thomson, Vancouver, BC.
Thanks so much for doing a great job on that course! I can't remember ever learning so much in a weekend. The drive through the mountains back to Edmonton was extra fun -- I spent half the time tracing routes up and down the visible terrain. Euan Thomson, Edmonton AB
Thank you for an amazingly informative course. The content was very educational and you were superb at facilitating learning throughout! Bridget Horel, Merville, BC.
Thank you again for your work with the Alpine Club Youth this past weekend. They learned a lot and are inspired to learn more thanks to your engaging and informative course. Dahlia Miller, Victoria, BC.