Before you jump right into an AST Level 1 (blue), we recommend starting with our 1 day 101 courses, fitness level, and skill level are green (beginner). Learn how to transition quickly, manage those sticky skins, walking techniques, and we will also show you some low-avalanche risk terrain to practice your skills. No previous experience is required, this is an entry-level course that anyone can participate in
We recommend before jumping into an AST 2, that you enroll in one of our Managing Avalanche Terrain (MAT) courses. This 1-day field-based course designed to expand on the terrain management taught in the AST 1 and to develop advanced winter backcountry travel skills.
Each of these courses takes place at a different popular touring location in the Kootenay Pass or Whitewater Ski Resort backcountry.
You must have taken your AST Level 1, and be at a BLUE ski and fitness level.
All of your guides at Kootenay Backcountry Guides are certified through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (A.C.M.G.) and the Canadian Avalanche Association. We use our experience and the vast array of up to date avalanche and weather information to make our decisions. We carry communication systems with us, plenty of 1st aid and mountain rescue equipment, and we are trained in their use. We make group decisions and we share our decision making process with you. If one person is not comfortable then the group needs to respect that. We have the utmost respect for the mountains, that is why we are here doing what we do!
We can tailor a trip to any group or individual needs. You should be able to confidently ski on intermediate runs at the ski hill, and not be afraid to tackle the odd black diamond.
The fitter and more skilled you are the further we can go, but we do not put pressure on you to go past where you feel comfortable. However, if you have the skills and want to go shred with a bunch of experts who know where to go to get it on, we can do that as well.
Start your day by meeting your guide outside the Railstation Cafe (next to Visitor Centre) and go over our waiver, safety, plan for the day, and final gear check. Depending on the objective this occurs between 7 and 8 am. If you want to put in a massive day, we start earlier.
For tours in the Whitewater Ski Resort Backcountry, we head up to the resort and launch from there. Once we arrive on the mountain, we practice our avalanche rescue skills. Then it is off to play in the mountains and having fun!
For groups going to Kootenay Pass we will take a 1hour drive to Kootenay Pass and launch from there.
Fit groups can achieve 2000m or close to 7000 ft of vertical, and more relaxed crews can play until they are tired. Typically we get between two and five runs. We are always monitoring folks energy levels and make our plans accordingly.
We always try to be back at our starting point at least one hour before sunset, which gives us a safety margin. After our final run, we re-group at our cars and end the day with debrief and make plans for the next day.
Ski Touring and Avalanche Education is a unique experience that is subject to weather and snowpack conditions. These conditions are constantly changing and add an element of complexity to each day. We reserve the right to cancel a ski touring day, course, or trip, in part or in whole, for any reason, including inclement weather, avalanche conditions, operational emergencies, lack of guides or instructors, pandemics, or insufficient guest bookings.
Except as provided in these terms and conditions, Kootenay Backcountry Guides will not provide you with a refund or compensation for any expenses related to your booking or trip to anywhere we operate, including airfare, car rentals, and accommodations. Kootenay Backcountry Guides strongly recommends that you purchase trip cancellation insurance (https://lifestylefinancial.ca/get-a-quote/kootenay-backcountry-guides/)
While we try our best to group skiers and boarders in our courses and mixed groups by ability level, no refunds shall be provided if your group skis or travels at a greater or lesser ability than you.
For private guided trips you are responsible to ensure that the members of your group are of enough ability to complete their touring day.
Any refunds made at the time of the refund will be refunded in Canadian Dollars via your original payment method. No adjustments will be made to the refund to account for differences in the exchange rate between the time payment was made and the refund was issued.
Full cancellation by Kootenay Backcountry Guides prior to the start of your trip or course. We may cancel your booking at any time prior to the scheduled start time. If we do, you will be given the opportunity to reschedule to a later date or course in the same season. If a mutually agreeable date cannot be scheduled that season, we will provide you with a full credit towards a trip or course equal to the value of your trip with Kootenay Backcountry Guides.
In the event, you do not want a credit we will give you a refund equal to the cost of the trip minus a 25% administration fee.
If you arrive late, forget your equipment, have equipment issues, injure yourself, decide to end your day early for whatever reason, or are instructed to stop skiing because we (in our sole discretion) determine that you are not physically fit or able, no refund will be provided.
7 Guest Cancellation.
Guided Tours and Lodge Based Avalanche Safety Training: greater than 60 days from the start date of your tour your deposit will be refunded minus 25% administrative fee. 60 - 45 days you forfeit your full deposit to Kootenay Backcountry Guides. If you are unable to attend a trip and notify us 45 days or less prior to the start of the trip, Kootenay Backcountry Guides has the right to keep full payment. Credits may be issued for future tour dates at your discretion, however, this is subject to availability. For example, if you notify Kootenay Backcountry guides by email 60 days or less before the first day of the tour, a credit may be applied for a future date subject to guiding/lodge availability. If you are unable to attend a trip and you are able to fill your spot(s) with a substitute, we encourage you to do that.
Avalanche Safety Training and Courses: greater than 30 days prior to the start date of your course you will be refunded in full less 25% non-refundable deposit. 30 days or less prior to the first day of the course the full course amount will be forfeited, Kootenay Backcountry Guides has the right to keep the full payment. Credits may be issued for future course dates for an administrative fee of $100, however, this is subject to availability. For example, if you notify Kootenay Backcountry guides by email 30 days or less before the first day of the course, a credit may be applied for a future date subject to registration availability, and you (the customer) will be charged a $100 administrative fee. If you are unable to attend a course and you are able to fill your spot(s) with a substitute, we encourage you to do that.
If you have a private group booked (guiding or courses) a group leader will be responsible for confirming the total number of participants and payment. The same cancelation dates as above (7.a) and (7.b) apply to private bookings. Private group bookings payment will be collected from the group leader. It is the group leader’s responsibility to collect individual payments from members of their group. If one of the group members decides to cancel they are not entitled to a refund. We do this to protect your booking. For example, if you book a private group of 5 participants, the group leader will submit a deposit and payment based on 5 participants. If one of the participants backs out, they are not entitled to a refund and either forfeit their payment or find a substitute to take their place. The group leader is responsible for collecting and refunding participants. Kootenay Backcountry Guides will not intervene on behalf of the group leader.
11 COVID-19 Cancellations
The following refund policy will apply if Kootenay Backcountry Guides cancels your booking because of reasons related to COVID-19, or if you are prevented from completing your booking because of a reason related to COVID-19 that are outside of your control, including travel issues, closed borders, and local outbreaks. In such case:
If Kootenay Backcountry Guides must cancel, we will notify you as soon as possible via the email address you provided at the time of booking;
your deposit or final bill will be held by Kootenay Backcountry Guides credited to a booking at Kootenay Backcountry Guides for a later date.
If you wish to have a refund instead of a credit towards a future trip we will provide a refund minus an administration fee of 25%.