"This course was without question the best organized and most succinct course that I have ever completed. Not one minute of wasted time, nor was there ever too much information to digest at any one time. The way the material was delivered in the classroom, as well as the conduct of the field trips, was clearly an endorsement of the coaches expertise in the content. I look forward to continuing my education through the CAA into the future." Ben Moffitt
Avalanche Operations Level 1 is the first professional level training course for persons seeking employment with avalanche risk management operations. Participants must be advanced skiers/splitboarders, or snowmobilers for the sled course, and should have considerable backcountry travel experience commensurate with industry standards. The Level 1 course is an essential prerequisite course to many other industry training programs, including guiding.
This intensive seven to eight day technical training course is comprised of approximately 40% theory and classroom work, and 60% practical application and field work. See the sample course schedule for an example of an average day.
Visit the course calendar for course dates, locations and registration*.
* Proof of Prerequisites(see below) must be uploaded during the registration process and full course payment is taken.
Course dates and locations for the following year are uploaded in the spring. Course registrations opens in September.
Please note: Students are responsible for their own transportation on the course.
For each course the Canadian Avalanche Association creates specific course goals and learning objectives. These reflect industry standards and current best practices and are updated accordingly. The Avalanche Operations Level 1 course goals and objectives are displayed in the Level 1 DACUM. If you are unfamiliar with DACUMs please read the document "Learn what a DACUM is and why it is important".
Applicants must have and prove1 at time of registration:
- A minimum of an Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 (AST 1) or similar training and experience.2
- Advanced backcountry travel skills in either skiing or splitboarding including proficiency with touring bindings, skins, and split boards OR snowmobiling for the sled course.
- Good fitness.
- To be proficient & consistent in multiple burial transceiver skills (Find two transceivers buried at least 70cm deep, in under five minutes, and in a 40m x 40m area.).
- Be 19 years of age or older (for courses based in British Columbia), OR 18 years of age or older (for courses based in Alberta).
1 See application/registration process.
2 Participation on an AST 1 course before your Level 1 is acceptable for those that do not have AST 1 at time of registration. You must fill out a Letter of Intent. For those with training and experience similar to the AST program (e.g., from another country) you can apply to waive the AST 1 prerequisite using our Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) application process. It will take 2 weeks to review a PLA application to waive a prerequisite. If you would like to register for a Level 1 course during this time then register using a Letter of Intent. A student applying for PLA will need the AST 1 course goals for their self-assessment.
If you have met the prerequisites listed above then you may register online for the course of your choice (if available). Online registration opens in the beginning of September every year. Check in over the summer to the course calendar for specific opening dates. Note: Some courses fill rapidly.
Courses that take place in British Columbia require full payment at time of registration (including applicable hut fees, see tuition). For courses that take place in Alberta, $500 is due at time of registration and the remainder is due the morning the course begins.
You will be required to upload scans or JPEGs of the following documents during your registration process. Without them you will be unable to complete your registration.
1 If a student is taking their AST 1 course between registration and the commencement of the Level 1 course, then they need to upload a Letter of Intent during the registration process.
2 When a student has experience/training that meets the goals of CAA course prerequisite they can apply to waive this prerequisite through the PLA process. It will take 2 weeks to review a PLA application to waive a prerequisite. If you would like to register for a Level 1 course during this time then register using a Letter of Intent. Students applying for PLA will need the AST 1 course goals for their self-assessment.
Tuition and Funding Opportunities
****The following are 2016-17 tuition prices. Note that prices are now location-specific to reflect ACTUAL costs associated with course locations****
Lake Louise: $2037
Kootenay Pass: $1675 (plus applicable hut fees)
Monashee Powder Snowcats: $1675 (plus applicable hut fees)
Burnie Glacier Lodge: $1675 (plus applicable hut fees)
An additional $100 registration fee is applied to International Students to account for shipping costs.
Please note that additional hut fees are in effect for the programs taking place at Monashee Powder Snowcats, Kokanee Glacier, Burnie Glacier, Valkyr, Boulder, Sol Mountain, and Kootenay Pass. All hut fees are non-refundable
2016/17 Hut Fees :
Monashee Powder Snowcats - $745 + tax
Burnie Glacier - $1215 + tax
Kootenay Pass - $731 + tax
The Avalanche Canada Foundation yearly offers scholarships for students. There is also an Alberta job grant and a Golden Area scholarship. Many local employment centres and/or SAR groups can also help with local funding opportunities.
Course evaluation is a combination of written tests and exercises, field book observations, practical examinations and field discussions. There are three mandatory elements that a student must pass (Professional Rescue Exam, Weather Observations, Snow Profile Exam) in addition to receiving an overall mark of 71% or greater. Retests are allowed in specific situations only. A passing grade results in the CAA Avalanche Operations Level 1 certificate of completion being granted to the student.
Accommodation and Huts
For town based courses, the CAA strongly recommends accommodation for students as close to the classroom location as possible. Mornings typically start around 6:30 with manual weather observations and lectures starting around 8:00 (sometimes earlier to allow for longer field days). Evening sessions are held occasionally throughout the week. Expect most days to go to 20:00.
Hut-based courses are run out of a remote backcountry operation. Additional fees are charged for these courses and include all meals, lodging and transportation from trail head to operation. Hut-based courses are an incredible value when compared to similar costs at other locations. These courses not only provide exceptional value but also an enhanced learning environment. Course participants will have exclusive use of the operation's terrain and facilities for the duration of their course. Close proximity to field study locations increases the amount of time students spend studying snowpack and avalanche terrain. In each operation, students will be expected to participate in daily hut duties as specified by facility operators and course instructors.
Course Equipment and Materials
Please refer to the sample student equipment list as a guideline. A location specific course equipment list is part of your course logistical letter which is found as a link in your registration confirmation e-mail. Make sure to take a look before coming to course.
A student manual will be sent to the mailing address you provided during course registration. Pre-course readings and questions take time and must be completed prior to starting the course. If you have not received your student manual one month prior to course start then please contact the CAA office.
Industry Training Program curriculum is delivered every year in countries such as Japan and New Zealand. If you are interested in finding out more about our international outreach projects, please go to the websites listed below or contact the CAA directly.