Provincial Advanced First-Aid Certification Letter

Avalanche dog rescue simulation – video

Avalanche Education and the Canadian Ski Patrol
The CSP has a long history in avalanche safety and education:

  • Providing the first public avalanche education courses in the late 1960s.
  • Partnering with other organizations in the middle 1990s to revise the public avalanche curriculum that has evolved into Avalanche Skills Training.
  • Kickstarting youth education programs in the early 2000s.
  • Continued updating of CSP education materials to current practices and providing training opportunities for patrollers.

Our aim is to spread the avalanche safety message to all CSP patrollers. The goal is to have all patrollers who patrol at ski resorts with avalanche terrain trained with appropriate avalanche knowledge and skills to be a valuable member of the resorts patrol team.

Avalanche skills training programs

The prime focus of the CSP education programs is providing basic avalanche awareness and safety information to all patrollers. The new CSP On Patrol Manual, Appendix C, Avalanche Safety, contains the required minimum knowledge required by patrollers workingat ski centres that have an avalanche risk potential.

For advanced learning, the CSP provides access to avalanche skills training (AST) courses which follow Avalanche Canada (AvCan) curriculum guidelines.

AvCan curriculum includes the following courses: AST 1, AST 2, Managing Avalanche Terrain and Companion Rescue Skills. The Avalanche Canada website provides a comprehensive overview of its training programs.

Avalanche Skills Training 1

The first step in your formal avalanche education, a minimum 16-hour course, which combines classroom theory and practical field exercises. Typically taught over one full weekend, it can be conducted at your local ski area or in the backcountry.

This course provides an entry-level decision-making framework that is based on the most advanced knowledge available and suitable for use by people with basic training and little experience.

At the end of the course, students should be able to: 

  • Describe avalanche formation and release using basic terminology.
  • Identify avalanche terrain. 
  • Plan and complete a backcountry trip plan using all available resources.
  • Describe techniques to minimize risk when traveling in the backcountry.
  • Demonstrate a basic companion rescue. 

Course fee is $80 per person. Courses are open to patrollers, family members and friends. Patrollers have first priority.

Avalanche Skills Training 2

A comprehensive, advanced avalanche skills course for non-professionals. A minimum 30-hour course spread over four days. Emphasis is on practical field skills, including terrain recognition, route finding, safe travel, group management, stability evaluation, small party self-rescue. The field sessions are in the backcountry, so appropriate touring equipment and skills are required. This course requires the course leader to be a CAA Professional Member. The instructors hired for these courses are ACMG certified guides.

AST 2 course cost is $615. Class size is restricted to a maximum of eight persons, with a minimum of five persons. Prerequisites include having taken an AST 1 course previously and some experience in backcountry touring. It is not recommended to do an AST 1 and an AST 2 course in the same season.

Companion rescue skills (CRS) course

This course is a one-day, field-based course designed for people looking to update and improve upon their search and rescue abilities.

The CRS course is suitable for any snowmobiler, skier, snowboarder, mountaineer, or snowshoer who recreates in avalanche terrain. Content can be focused to two interest groups:

  • AST graduates (1 or 2) looking to update and improve upon search and rescue abilities learned in their AST courses.
  • CSP patrollers with no AST training, who want to have rescue skills to enable them to be valuable members of their ski resort’s rescue teams.

The one-day Companion Rescue Skills course will train students to:

  • Consider preventative measure.
  • Understand transceiver functions.
  • Apply search and rescue techniques.
  • Identify post-incident considerations.

This course can be taken on a yearly basis to ensure that rescue skills are continually kept up-to-date.

Avalanche training courses - AST 1 & AST 2
  • An AST 2 course is organized each winter. Typically, the field days are in the Lake Louise, Alberta and Rogers Pass, B.C areas.
  • AST 1 and Companion Rescue Skills (CRS) courses are typically organized in the Bow Valley corridor west of Calgary and Whitehorse, Yukon areas. Courses in outlying areas can be arranged as requested.
  • Contact Ken Lukawy at for information on any of the above courses and for current course dates.
Online avalanche courses

Have you previously taken an avalanche course and feel in need of an update or refresher course? New to the backcountry/off-piste skiing and not sure of what avalanche safety is all about? Not sure of what you think you know or don’t know about travel in avalanche terrain? There is an excellent online resource that is available for you. Highly recommended and covers the following topics:

  • Avalanche formation
  • Avalanche terrain
  • Pre-trip Planning
  • Reducing risk in the field
  • Rescue
  • Avalanche incident reporting

Check out  AvySavvy, Avalanche Canada’s 0nline avalanche tutorial – in English or French

These online avalanche courses are NOT intended to replace the formal avalanche training in AST 1 & AST 2 courses

Course funding and subsidies

Calgary Zone has established a program to subsidize AST 1 & AST 2 courses for its patrollers.

Mountain Division has a subsidy available to assist Mountain Division patrollers in attending avalanche-related workshops and courses.

For more information on how to access this funding contact Ken Lukawy (CSP National Avalanche Program Coordinator)