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AST 2 Students, Hummingbird Pass Whitewater AST 2 Students, Hummingbird Pass Whitewater Ski Resort

One of the frequently asked questions we get at KBG is: When will I be ready to take the AST-2?  

Ultimately the decision rests in your hands and should be in line with your backcountry goals and experience. In this post, we aim to help your decision by providing you with information that may help. 

Students should consider the following topics when deciding whether to take the AST-2.

  • What are your backcountry touring goals?
  • What are you looking to achieve at the end of the AST2?
  • What is your experience level? How many times have you been touring?
  • What are your fitness and skills?

What Are Your Backcountry Goals? 

Taking the AST2 is a considerable undertaking, it is four long days of immersive experience meant to expand your understanding of a complex and rewarding sport. Before undertaking the commitment of the AST2 you should have a love for backcountry touring and a desire to take the next step in learning. 

After the AST1 students often join groups with more experienced people and follow along. They often say they wish to be a better touring partner by contributing to group decision-making and feel more confident with companion rescue skills. 

What Are You Hoping To Achieve By The End Of The AST2?

Students often leave the AST1 with a basic understanding of concepts such as terrain, companion rescue, route planning, understanding the bulletin, human factors and decision making, snowpack layering, and weather. The AST2 aims to expand students' understanding of these concepts and add additional learning outcomes.

The AST2 Learning Goals:

  • Demonstrate how to use the decision-making skills of a group to manage avalanche risk.
  • Use intermediate to advanced concepts to describe the theoretical framework of avalanche terrain and snowpack.
  • Plan and carry out trips using the seven steps of the Daily Process.
  • Organize and lead companion rescue.

Kootenay Backcountry Guides uses these goals to craft a program that gives students a chance to practice these concepts and expand their knowledge through hands-on practical experience. Our four-day field-focused AST2 gives students 8-10 hours of pre-work followed by four full field days. During our field days, we spend time planning trips and reviewing the lessons learned at the end of each day.

What Is Your Experience Level? 

The prerequisites for the AST 2 are:

  • AST 1 (within the last 10 yrs)
  • Sufficient field experience

The AST 2 will be much more valuable for AST 1 graduates that have spent time practicing their skills. We recommend 10 – 20 days of backcountry experience before taking the AST 2. 

What Are Your Fitness And Ski/Snowboard Skill? 

While enrolling in a four day-day course in a remote backcountry setting it is important to give an honest assessment of your fitness and travel skills. Making sure you meet the fitness and skill requirements is a group safety concern.

At Kootenay Backcountry Guides, we have provided an easy way to assess your skills. Students wishing to take the AST 2 with us need to be at the following standard:  FLYING SQUIRREL

Fitness Level: Flying Squirrels have been ski touring at least ten times and are confident they can put in a 6.5-hour day of moving in the mountains. They can ski or splitboard 1000 vertical meters (3000ft) on back-to-back days and travel for 10km while following a track. They keep in shape and want a typical day of ski touring, hanging with friends, and having a good time.

Ski/Snowboard Skills: Flying Squirrels have ridden powder in bounds and out of bounds and have tasted what deep powder can be. Flying Squirrels can ride tree runs but enjoy open bowls more. They are confident on a black diamond runs in bounds; however, cliffs and steep chutes might not be their thing. Flying Squirrels are primarily looking for a good time with their squirrel friends and can join most of our courses and tours. 

In Conclusion... 

AST 2 is a fun and immersive learning experience. Join with friends and family or go solo and meet new people who are as excited about backcountry touring as you are. But don't just take our word for it, here is what some of our AST2 Alumni had to say: 

Visit our website to learn more about our AST2 Courses

"Just finished my Splitboard AST 2 with Jeremy and Tyler and am really stoked on the experience. I had done an AST2 4 Winters ago, so I was unsure if I made the right call by doing it again, and I definitely did. The online course was a great refresher and learned lots from that. Super stoked on the field days. I feel like I got so much, from using a data-gathering mindset to trip planning to critically evaluating terrain. It was an awesome experience and invaluable to my decision making in the backcountry. Thanks guys!"

KBG Alumni - 2021 

"I organized a private AST 2 course and it was taught by Judson. It was a great 4-day field course with an online precourse that we completed in our own time in the weeks prior. Judson was an awesome teacher and I learned far more than I expected regarding critical decision-making skills, snowpack study, avalanche terrain discernment, trip planning, online mapping, as well as group dynamics. Doing a private course was great as the dynamics are good and you are learning with the people you will be skiing with so you can further build and learn together while implementing what you all learned! I would highly recommend KBG for anyone thinking of furthering their backcountry knowledge."

KBG Alumni - 2022
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Spring Basecamp April 2022

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