AST1 Washington - for Skiers and Boarders

As low as:

$315.00 / person

(at 8:1 ratio) Next Trip: Dec 21 - 22, 2024

    Upcoming Trips

    Don't see a date that works?
    Start a new trip
  • Dec 21 - 22, 2024
    Book Trip
    8 spots available. $315.00
  • Dec 28 - 29, 2024
    Book Trip
    5 spots available. $315.00
  • Jan 4 - 5, 2025
    Book Trip
    7 spots available. $315.00


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.

Lift ticket $35.00

This specially priced lift ticket is mandatory if you do not own a season pass. If you are not purchasing this add-on, you must email us at [email protected] to confirm that you have a season pass, otherwise we will add a lift ticket to your booking. Lift Tickets once purchased 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.

IAG Cancellation Coverage $16.00

As per our Cancellation Policy, your trip or course is 100% non-refundable after 30 days prior to the trip/course start date. Purchasing this addon will allow you to cancel your trip/course within that 30 day time period for reasons of injury, illness or family emergency, and will provide you with a credit for the full value of your trip/course fee which can be be used on any Island Alpine Guides or Hike Vancouver Island trip or course or trip for up to one year from the start date of the trip/course originally booked.


Looking to ride in the backcountry this winter? Avalanche Skills Training 1 (AST1) 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 Washington benefits from exclusive lift access from the resort on the field day, providing a quick approach to terrain for touring, learning, and riding.


  • 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)
  • Complete slope scale assessments
  • 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

  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Personal equipment 
  • Avi Kit (transceiver, shovel, probe – available as an add-on)
  • Lift ticket (available as an add on)

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


Unless public health advice is to the contrary, we will return to in-person classroom sessions for all of our AST courses over the 2023/2024 season.

Our standard in-person classroom is in the Comox Valley and we use Mount Washington Alpine Resort as an access point to backcountry terrain for the field day. 

If you would prefer to complete your AST1 at Mount Cain, please see AST1 Cain for booking details.


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. Please anticipate that each day will go from 8:30 to around 17:00*.

You will be provided with exact meeting details specific to your course one-week prior to your course start date.

Day 1: Theory session

8:30am: Meet your instructor and other participants for your AST1 theory day. Skis/boards will not be needed on day one. 

We may complete some companion rescue practice on the theory day, in which case avi kits will be required. 

4:00pm-5:00pm: Approximate finish time

Day 2: Field session 

8:30am: Students meet their instructor at the base of the Hawk Chair at Mount Washington Alpine Resort for a morning meeting. Waivers and avi kit rentals are handed out.

9:00am: After the morning meeting, students will spend the day outside in the field, identifying terrain, practicing route finding and safe travel, and learning about slope assessment, hazard recognition and small party self-rescue.
4:00pm-5:00pm: Debrief and rental return

*Timing depends on the conditions, group dynamics, and how quickly the instructor can move through the necessary material. 

Participants will receive a pre-trip email one-week prior with trip details. Questions? Check out our FAQ page, 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, un-groomed conditions). *If your ski/boarding experience does not meet this level, we also offer AST1 for Snowshoers
  • You 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. 
  • You are prepared to spend the day outside in variable conditions (please see gear list).
  • You have access to a vehicle with winter tires and chains.

Optional 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.

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 whenever possible.

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, please send us an email: [email protected]

Avalanche Safety Gear

These items are available as an Add On “avi kit rental” when you book, or by request. 

  • 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 (boarders may also snowshoe uphill carrying their snowboard on their pack for the 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
  • Midweight, breathable jacket and pants -- for uphill skinning/climbing
  • Insulated jacket -- synthetic or down
  • Lightweight gloves for climbing/skinning 
  • Warm gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Balaclava or another type of neck warmer
  • Baselayers (top and bottom)


  • Water
  • Lunch and snacks (prepared ahead of time and consumable on the go) 
  • 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'.

If you require other items from the personal gear list, perhaps check out Sports Rent based out of Victoria, Blue Toque Sports based in Courtenay, and/or on social media mountaineering groups to name a few.

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


The course was a great experience and opened our eyes up to the backcountry environment. Was very great to see the hazards and different types of terrain Mt. Washington had, definitely learned lots even though we've skied there our whole lives. I feel like the course gave us the tools necessary to start ski touring! Dave was a great guide and instructor with lots of knowledge and experience, we would definitely do a course with him again! Emily + Matthew,
The course was great, weather was perfect and Christoph is a great instructor with an amazing amount of knowledge. It's been over 10 years since I took my Avi Awareness and the new knowledge and tools will be an amazing help in the backcountry. Michael Allen, Valhalla Pure Outfitters, Nanaimo, BC
I just finished my AST1 course today and wanted to say that I had an awesome time and am looking forward to making turns in the backcountry. Thanks again for another awesome course. I've spread the word among my friends and they're all looking forward to next year to book their own spots for the AST1 course. Kevin Hardy, Courtenay, BC
The course was fantastic. In particular our guide Ken Wylie’s communication skills were terrific. Graeme Green, Roberts Creek, BC
Thanks for the incredible, informative and fun course. Kimberly Johnston, Ucluelet, BC
Even though it was our 5th year running, I felt that your delivery of new course material and presentation techniques keeps getting better. Your ability to teach teenagers about terrain and avalanche risk assessment and group decisions is very effective. Thank you for helping to inspire tomorrow's stewards of nature. Andrew Jackson, Glen Lyon Norfolk School, Victoria, BC.
Ken is an excellent instructor and I thoroughly enjoyed the course!! C.G., Vancouver Island
Thanks again for a great course. It was exactly what we needed. Kyle Milburn, Ecofish Research Ltd, Courtenay, BC
Thank you again for a truly amazing weekend. You really blew any expectations we had for AST1 out of the water. Breanne Storey, Victoria, BC
My most sincere kudos to Mike for a administering a great course. He definitely made the course extremely engaging and interesting. His enthusiasm, knowledge and demeanour gave credibility to the course material and avalanche theory, and thoroughly engaged the students. Also, it made for one heck of a good time. Tony Litke, Snow Survey Network Program, BC Ministry of Environment, Victoria, BC
Thank you to our instructor, Mike, for sharing his expertise and lifelong mountain knowledge — from hoar frost to facets, from convexities and overburden, to runout zone and debris field. He made the companion rescue interesting and challenging. Practise, practise, practise. A special thank you to you too for your effort with the great Avalanche Bulletin page, our number 1 tool. Thomas & Waltraud Radetzki, Sooke, BC
I wanted to let you know how happy I am with the AST1 course I took with you recently. The practical knowledge we learned over those two days is invaluable. I definitely feel more confident in my decision-making beyond the rope. Steven Hornick, Cobble Hill, BC
The course was great. Thanks to Helene and Jan for sharing their knowledge and experience. Vik, Comox, BC
Thanks so much for a weekend full of knowledge and guys did a great job in helping us gain confidence in the backcountry... doing what you do saves lives and I appreciate it!! Great instructors, great group, great course! I took so much away from it I'm ready to head out and enjoy!! Kim Jordan,
I have nothing but good things to say about our instructor Ken. He was very knowledgeable and patient while explaining concepts. He encouraged and was always happy to answer any question we had to make sure everyone understood what was being taught. His personal experience and stories were powerful teaching tools explaining the balance between risk/reward when entering the backcountry. A.C., Vancouver Island
The course with our guide Ken Wylie was amazing. Ken was insightful and inspiring, and some of what he shared extended well beyond avalanche safety into activities in the backcountry and life. Kristen Walsh, Victoria, BC
I found the course material excellent and the presentation was top notch. It helped that the subject matter is so inherently fascinating, but the two of you really brought it to life. It was clear from your passion that safety in the backcountry is of great personal significance to you. Your message of personal responsibility and power on the part of each member of a group really resonated with me. I was heartened to be made to feel like a member of a team, whose opinions and intuitions are important, even in the company of people with vastly more experience. This is a powerful message, applicable in many spheres of life that involve teamwork, from the mundane to the potentially life-changing. And for me, it was an extremely effective learning trigger, helping to give weight and substance to everything that I learned. Stefan Kriegler, Vancouver Island, BC
An awesome experience! I can't wait to get out and use it. Patrick McConnell, Courtenay, BC
My son really enjoyed the AST1 course. He had a great time and learned a lot. He has told me a few stories from the course and you definitely got his attention. He loves skiing and the mountains and has been doing some skiing recently in the backcountry, which of course has had me concerned. I appreciate you teaching him respect for the backcountry and the elements. This course will help him to be safer and better prepared. Thank you very much. Sheila Goodall, Courtenay, BC
Awesome course, so worth the money. Angeline and I came out with so much more knowledge than we expected and feel so much more prepared to tour the backcountry this season. It really showed me how little I really knew last season. Your teaching ability and passion for ski touring and avalanche knowledge really shines through while you're teaching (especially in the field). Thanks again, and we look forward to taking more courses and tours with you in the near future. Nate Elman & Angeline Huson, Courtenay, BC
I would like to commend you and your staff for putting on an awesome course. The content was thorough and engaging, and the field work was not only an excellent way to reinforce the classroom lessons, but it also added so much more value to the course to be able to see things first hand out in the "real world". The class size was large enough to be able to simulate a good-sized ski group but not too large for each student to get individualized attention from the instructor. Speaking of the instructor, Christophe did an amazing job. He was knowledgeable, professional and did a great job engaging us with the course content. I came away with a much greater understanding of the mechanics of avalanches and also a far greater respect for the potentially devastating effect that bad decision-making can have. I would absolutely recommend the AST1 course to anyone who ventures into the backcountry. Christina Sharun, Nanaimo, BC
Just a quick note to express my satisfaction with the AST1 course at Mount Washington this past weekend. The course exceeded my expectations in every regard and I came away feeling it was a weekend very well spent. You have a gift in Lyle. He is an exceptional instructor who can balance very well between the novices, such as me, and the folks with more experience. His teaching style means everyone benefits from each other as well as him. Bil Derby, Nanaimo, BC
I am a 45 year old skier and I have been skiing for just over 30 years. I recently purchased alpine touring gear and am eager to use the equipment safely. The classroom presentation was excellent. The field work was exciting and brought to life the information presented in the classroom. I really enjoyed the course and I look forward to gaining more experience on my skis outside the resort boundaries. Andrew, H, Nanaimo, BC
We were impressed by the service and expertise of the staff from the point of registration through the run of the AST1 course. Very friendly, approachable and highly experienced staff, Ryan Shelly did a great job of teaching us the course and we look forward to doing our AST2 Bergljot, S,
Thanks so much for a weekend full of knowledge and fun. You guys did a great job in helping us gain confidence in the backcountry. Doing what you do saves lives and I appreciate it and I can't wait to get out there and have fun safely! Kim J, Duncan
I really enjoyed the AST1 course last weekend. Bill was very experienced and interesting and I appreciated his advice and input. The group was fun and I learned a tonne about avalanches and how to rescue someone. Annie C, Victoria
I took this course when I lived in Alberta, nearly a decade ago; but Alex was by far a superior presenter. The knowledge he presented came alive when he supplemented his instruction with the details of his personal experiences. Anon., Vancouver Island
I left my Avalanche Skills Training course feeling inspired and grounded. Anyone who backcountry skis should take this course! Maddy D, Courtenay
I have to say that this course is one of the BEST I’ve ever done. Ryan and Tim were a wealth of information, not only in the practical sense but with multiple “there I was” stories to back up their teachings. The field work was well paced and VERY informative. Our instructors made sure to be inclusive of everyone and take time for our questions. They were also very entertaining inserting comic relief on occasion to provide much needed levity on the long days. I am eager to hone my new skills and hopefully attend another one of your excellent courses next year. Dallas H, Comox
I truly had a great day with Ken and the group learning about avalanches and rescue. He made sure everyone was taken care of, the gear was working, he gave us breaks to drink water or snack, and that we would warm up by moving or doing activity if he saw us getting cold. Ken was a professional and consistently displayed years and years of experience in the backcountry. I would highly recommend the course to anyone, and suggest they try to get Ken as their instructor. Lewis W, Courtenay
Super fun and informative! Robyn F, Courtenay
I want to pass along a special thanks to Ryan. The AST 1 course this weekend was fantastic. The theory class was very informative, and covered a lot of material. I thought Ryan’s presentation was very good, professional yet quite personnel too. We had a good group and some great interaction. Thanks again, I will definitely be contacting IAG in the future! Matt H,
I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed this course. I came out of it with way more than I anticipated. A big thank you to our instructor Ken Wylie who brought not only great expertise with avalanche safety but a deeper knowledge of the human condition which made this course incredibly impactful for me. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom Ken! It will be put to good use in the snow and out. Jennifer A, Nanaimo
Really enjoyed the course. I really appreciated the depth of knowledge Ken had, and his philosophical perspective on safety and avalanches. Neil E,
Loved it all. I felt like I got a very thorough and well-rounded overview of avalanche safety, and I feel much more confident heading out into the backcountry. Really appreciated Graeme’s passion and enthusiasm for snow and for teaching. He made it a super fun and safe environment. Can’t wait to take another course! Jennifer Joyce, Mount Washington
Tim was an excellent instructor. He was friendly and fun but still able to communicate the absolute seriousness of what you are getting yourself into once you step into the backcountry. Amidst a pandemic, I felt safe. I would recommend AST1 through Island Alpine Guides. Tamara Akerman,
Excellent and clear delivery of all information that was expected to be covered in this course. Alex was able to answer all questions with great detail and relevance. The whole day over Zoom was well done and I found it easy to pay attention. Our field day was really well set up and I thought it to be an appropriate mix of time spent talking, as well as practicing the physical skills. If anything, I wish the day had been longer! Vik,
These guys are specialists in their field and were friendly, approachable and articulated concepts and theories in a very easily digestible way. Truly awesome! Anon.,
I cannot say enough about Tim, he displayed the perfect amount of textbook mixed with real life experiences. He has a way of presenting the information that needs to be recognized as EXCELLENT. I'm very satisfied with the knowledge I gained and have reflected my positive experience to all my community. Thanks Tim Dennis Mellson,
Tim did a great job making sure people were following along, but kept the course moving as well. The mountain day was also excellent. Tim went above and beyond to make sure we know what it would be like to be in an avalanche, and why this course is so important. Looking forward to taking more classes with Island Alpine. Alex,
Jan presented an engaging and comprehensive presentation over zoom, which was easy to follow and well-paced for online learning. He was extremely knowledgeable and willing to answer any and all questions with an in-depth response! Joe was a fantastic field instructor, I greatly appreciated his open approach to our (many) questions & curiosities, and willingness to draw from his own experiences in the backcountry. Thanks to the whole team for such an awesome course! Meg Rogers,
I thought Brynn was an incredible instructor. He did a very good job of presenting the vast amount of info in an engaging way in our classroom session. I appreciated his sharing of personal stories to explain dangers, what he learned and how to approach things from a safe, rules based decision making process. In our field day he was knowledgeable, approachable and made the learning really fun. I feel like I took so much away from the course overall and would absolutely book another one with him as an instructor. Thanks, Brynn! Sarah,
Jan was excellent at keeping the whole day engaging and very informative. Learned a whole bunch. I was very happy with the day and would highly suggest this course to anyone interested in avalanche awareness. Dan Kolk,
We had a fabulous day with Island Alpine. Our guide, Tim, was excellent. He was engaging and encouraging and had a wealth of knowledge that he was passionate to share. He kept the crew focussed and cohesive and managed the weekend beautifully. We came away feeling as though we had learned much, understood that we still had much more to learn and are excited to get out in the backcountry. Thank you! Paisley,
So much fun, lots of laughter. Instructors were both very knowledgeable, engaging, approachable & inclusive. Kaley V.,
Graeme was a great instructor, he was super knowledgeable and very enthusiastic about training and the course overall which made it very easy to stay engaged and gain information. The course went super well, couldn’t really have asked for more. Andrew B. , Mt Washington
The zoom session was very informative and it covered a lot of information. The field day was excellent and Graham was a great guide, allowing everyone to follow at their own pace. Taren, Mt Washington
A good balance of practical and theoretical knowledge and well presented by superb teachers. I look forward to being able to apply what I've learned this winter season. Chris, Victoria, BC
This past weekend’s AST1 course was excellent. Lyle did a great job of delivering the course content in a simple, easy-to-understand way. Even though snow conditions were not good, the field work we did was so valuable and effective. Andrew Jackson, Glenlyon Norfolk School, Victoria, BC
Jan is a very knowledgeable guide and is easy to approach with any question about the mountains you could think of. I highly recommend the AST1 course for anyone who is interested in the backcountry. From experienced to complete beginner, this course has the very best building blocks to set a valuable foundation to keep you safe and having fun in the mountains. I will definitely be taking more courses through Island Alpine Guides in the future. Natty Stash, Vancouver Island, BC