Avalanche Search and Rescue Advanced Skills

The Avalanche Search and Rescue Advanced Skills (AvSAR Advanced Skills) course (formerly called Avalanche Search and Rescue Response) is a 3-day professional-level course. The course is designed to teach participants the hazards associated with avalanche search and rescue, and how to apply advanced AvSAR techniques and strategies. This will help students and organizations in preparing to respond to AvSAR incidences.

The course is intended for industry professionals and advanced search and rescue
volunteers seeking hands-on technical training in avalanche rescue techniques and strategies. Best practices in avalanche rescue are delivered by current practitioners and materials are updated regularly with input from industry, manufacturers, and instructors.

The course is delivered primarily in the field, with a combination of demonstrations and practice stations. Students must complete a significant amount of reading prior to course start. A sample course schedule shows the general progression of course topics.


Once AvSAR Advanced Skills students have mastered the theory and skills demonstrated on the AvSAR Advanced Skills course, they are eligible to take the AvSAR Practical Skills Assessment (AvSAR PSA). The AvSAR PSA is optional for those not pursuing the Avalanche Operations Level 2 program and is a requirement for those applying to the Level 2 program. For more information on the AvSAR Practical Skills Assessment, visit the AvSAR PSA webpage. (Please note: registering for the AvSAR PSA is done separately from the AvSAR Advanced Skills course.)


Visit the course calendar for course dates, locations, location-specific logistics details, and registration.

Program Goals

The Avalanche Search and Rescue Advanced Skills course goals and objectives are displayed in the AvSAR Advanced Skills 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 prove at time of registration:

  • CAA Avalanche Operations Level 1 or similar training and experience1; OR
  • Currently working in a professional or volunteer capacity for an agency or organization with an organized AvSAR response capacity (RCMP, DND SAR Techs, PEP, mechanized and non-mechanized skiing, ski areas, Parks, highways, etc.).
  • Incident Command System (ICS) 100 course (e.g. free course - Alberta Emergency Management Agency ICS-100 or U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency ICS-100)*

* For those who have not yet completed this course you can submit a Letter of Intent during course registration.

  • Recommended: 80-Hour First-Aid certificate

1 Applicants wishing to waive a prerequisite due to similar training and experience canapply to waive the prerequisite using the Prior Learning Assessment application. Please see the details of this option on the PLA Application webpage.

Registration Process

If you have met the prerequisites listed above, then you may register online for the AvSAR Advanced Skills course of your choice (if available). Visit the course calendar for course dates, locations, location-specific logistics details, and registration.


Note that full payment for the course will be taken at time of registration.


You will be required to upload a scan or JPEG of the following document during your registration process. Without them you will be unable to complete your registration.

1 Applicants wishing to have prerequisite waived due to similar training and experience can apply to waive the prerequisite using the Prior Learning Assessment application. Please see the details of this option on the PLA Application webpage.

Course Fees and Funding Opportunities

****The following are 2018-19 course fees. Note that prices are now location-specific to reflect ACTUAL costs associated with course locations****  


Whistler: $906 (includes lift access)

Revelstoke: $781 (includes lift access)

Fernie: $835 (includes lift access)


An additional $100 registration fee is applied to international students to account for shipping costs.


Full payment for the course is due at time of registration.



The Avalanche Canada Foundation yearly offers scholarships for students for a variety of courses. 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 logistic information. Alternatively you can click on the course's title in the course calendar to view logistic details.


Students will be mailed a program package1 that includes:

  • An AvSAR Advanced Skills student manual & readings.

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, questions and tasks take approximately 20+ hours, and must be completed prior to starting the course. Students will also need to be familiar and well versed with their transceiver functions.


The AvSAR Advanced Skills course is a mixture of classroom and field based learning. Students will alternate between inside and outside daily. Please refer to the sample equipment list as a general guideline. A link to the required equipment list is provided in the registration confirmation email. 


Use the sample course schedule to help anticipate daily needs.


Course Evaluation

The assessment of student learning in the AvSAR program is broken into two parts: theory and technical skills. The theory portion is assessed by a final written exam during the AvSAR Advanced Skills course. This exam has a combination of multiple-choice, matching and short answer questions. Questions will cover material in the student manual, classroom lectures and field portions of the course. Participants must achieve a mark of 71% or higher to pass the written exam. Students will receive an AvSAR Advanced Skills Theory certificate upon successful completion of the written exam.


Technical skills are examined on the AvSAR Practical Skills Assessment (AvSAR PSA). Registration for the AvSAR PSA is separate from the AvSAR Advanced Skills course, as the AvSAR PSA is an optional exam for those not pursuing the CAA Level 2 program. For more information on the AvSAR PSA, click here.


Verbal and/or written feedback is also provided on technical skills practiced during the AvSAR Advanced Skills course for those preparing for the AvSAR Practical Skills Assessment (AvSAR PSA). Students are welcome to ask instructors questions they have regarding the AvSAR PSA during the course.








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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