In the last week at Big White some of our participants took on the challenge of attaining their Avalanche Skills Training (AST) qualification. After a day in the classroom and a day in the backcountry, the guys received their certificates and enjoyed a few well deserved pints.
The avalanche safety training was really interesting and informative. It was pretty cool having the first day in the classroom looking at all the different aspects of avalanches, using the equipment and then going out the next day and being able to see just in the relatively small amount of terrain surrounding the resort how much evidence there was of relatively recent avalanches.
We were able to pick out where they started from, the path they took down the mountain and where they eventually came to rest. It was awesome to get some hands on work with using the transceivers, probes and shovels to potentially save someone's life if the worst were to happen.
Digging a test pit, seeing all the different layers in the snowpack and identifying the potential weak layer that could cause an avalanche was really cool. If nothing else it was just awesome being out in the backcountry on fresh snow with gorgeous views all around.
I'm glad I did the AST Course and I would highly recommend it as it has given me a new found respect for the mountains and how fragile the snow under my board can be. But with the knowledge we gained through doing the course we can manage and limit the risks while still enjoying some awesome fresh tracks in the backcountry or off piste.