Avalanche Operations Level 1

"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. Refer to the sample course schedule for an example of an average day. There is a significant amount of pre-course reading to complete before course start. Students are examined on day one on their companion rescue skills.


Visit the course calendar for course dates, locations and registration*. Course dates and locations for the following year are uploaded in the spring. Course registrations open in September.
* Proof of Prerequisites(see below) must be uploaded during the registration process and full course payment is taken. 


Please note: Students are responsible for their own transportation on the course. 

Program Goals

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.
  • 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. We aim to take a maximum of 2 weeks to review a PLA application to waive a prerequisite. Students can register for the Avalanche Operations Level 1 course while a PLA application is under review. Please see the details of this option on the PLA Application webpage. A student applying for PLA will need the AST 1 course goals for their self-assessment.


Recommended Course:

Application/Registration Process

If you have met the prerequisites listed above then you may register online for the course of your choice (if available). Course locations and dates are posted every spring for the following year. Online registration opens in the beginning of September with a staggered start over a couple of days. Check in over the summer to the course calendar for specific opening dates and times of each course. Note: Some courses fill rapidly.


All Level 1 courses require full payment at time of registration (including applicable hut fees, see tuition below).


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.

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. We aim to take a maximum of 2 weeks to review a PLA application to waive a prerequisite. Students can register for the Avalanche Operations Level 1 course while a PLA application is under review. Please see the details of this option on the PLA Application webpage. 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****


Revelstoke: $2045

Lake Louise: $2037

Whistler: $1973

Fernie: $1932

Golden: $1860

Chic-Chocs: $1649

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 Equipment and Materials

Upon registration all students will receive a confirmation e-mail that contains links to the course's logistical information. Alternatively you can click on the course's title in the course calendar to view logistical details.


Students will be mailed a program package1 that includes:

  • A Level 1 Student Manual & readings.
  • An Observation Guidelines and Recording Standards for Weather, Snowpack and Avalanches (OGRS).
  • The Avalanche Handbook

1 It is the student's responsibility to contact the CAA office if they have not received this package 1 month prior to course start. The package will be mailed to the address you provided during your online registration.


Pre-course readings and questions take time, 20+ hours, and must be completed prior to starting the course. Students will also need to be prepared for their companion rescue exam (see student manual).


The Level 1 course is a mixture of classroom and field based learning. Students will alternate between inside and outside daily. Please refer to the sample Level 1 student equipment list or sample Level 1 sled student equipment list as a general guideline. There will be a venue specific equipment list, in your digital logistical letter you receive with registration, for what to bring to course. Make sure to read this list carefully and bring all mandatory items. 

Days on the Level 1 course can be long and it is the student's responsibility to take care of their personal needs. This can include classroom snacks, proper clothing and ensuring they are well rested ready to learn.


Use the sample course schedule to help anticipate daily needs.

Course Evaluation

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.

Full marking rubrics are found in the Level 1 student manual.

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 also provide 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.


International Courses

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.

Box 2759, 110 MacKenzie Ave
Revelstoke, BC Canada, V0E 2S0
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Tel 250-837-2435
Fax 866-366-2094
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