Are you ready for the backcountry?
Winter is here in full force and with its arrival came A LOT of snow, and likely (hopefully) the snowfall will continue. Snow can make many of us lose our minds – our judgment stops, we suddenly hate our jobs and will do literally anything to get a few deep turns. When the powder runs out, many of us head to the backcountry, whether it’s off Whistler or Blackcomb, or way back into the Duffy; the hunt for fresh turns continues.
I’m just going to cut to the chase here, now is a better time then ever to register for an Avalanche Skills Training course. Many of you think if a slide happens, you will calmly pull out your beacon, find your friend, and dig them out in no time… but this likely isn’t the case. Avy courses are running all over Whistler and will teach you how to assess terrain, snow conditions, and make emergency rescues, leaving you a little more prepared (probably not fully prepared- this takes practice) to avoid danger or possibly save a life.
(*Added bonus: your friends who are already experienced in the backcountry may actually want to take you with them now, as you will be a little more useful in an emergency!)
Here is a rundown on many of the courses happening in the Whistler area. I highly recommend trying one out, even if you are not frequenting the backcountry or have zero avalanche skills experience. The courses are fun, highly educational and will leave you with skills ready to impress any mountain babe (male or female). Trust me, this is money well spent! Last year I walked into my AST 1, face swollen from a root canal, unable to speak clearly, and loaded up on T3’s, and still loved it! (minus all of the eyes staring at my ridiculous, swollen face).
The two basic courses are AST 1 (avalanche skills training) and AST 2. AST 1 runs over two and a half days and is great for those just getting introduced to the backcountry (one evening, two days), the AST 2 courses are over four days and get into more technical snow science and decision making.
Some great programs being run in Whistler are with:
Canadian Adventures (offers snowmobile based courses)
(Most of the companies provide equipment rentals or will send you to a local shop to rent backcountry equipment at a discount)
Not ready to drop the $$? Then stay out of the backcountry for now and check out the free avalanche awareness tours offered by the Whistler Blackcomb ski patrol. These are full day tours, run off both mountains and well… they’re free so why not!?
I’ll leave the rest up to you. Check out these courses and be smart about what you are doing out of bounds! Snow science is cool, get educated, don’t be a fool!