The AST 1 Course is a 2 Day Avalanche Education Course designed to provide foundational skill sets, with the goal of allowing you to safely begin to explore and acquire your own experience in Backcountry Avalanche Terrain. Learn systematic methods for decision making, managing risk, understanding avalanche hazard and phenomena.





   Classroom Session Hosted via Zoom


 Public & Private Courses Available






You, our students, have spread the good word. Cloud Nine has rapidly become a premiere provider of AST Education in Canada. We are very fortunate to host hundreds of students on our AST 1 Courses from November to February each winter season. So why us?

We think you'll dig the difference.
Cloud Nine Guides AST CONNECT+


You've got your AST 1. Bridge the gap between the AST 2 with our AST CONNECT+ Ski and Split Backcountry Touring & Education Days.
Seats from $175.00 per day.

Canmore & Banff AST 1 Avalanche Courses


Ready for your AST 1 Course this season? Seats available November to February every weekend, or book a private course with your crew! Starting at $230 per seat.


Private Group AST 1 Avalanche Courses available this season in Golden BC for you and your crew of 4 or more. 
Starting at $320.00 / student.


Day 1 – Theory 7.5hrs

Hosted via Zoom Meeting

  • 0830hrs - Zoom Meeting Waiting Room Opens
  • 0900hrs - Zoom Meeting Opens
  • 0900-0915hrs - Instructor Introductions, Course Goals, Agendas, Review Timings & Schedule, Presentation of Waiver of Liability Document.
  • 0915 - 1200hrs - Curriculum (Theory)
    • Understanding Avalanches: Their Formation & Characteristics
    • Avalanche Terrain Recognition
    • Introduction to the ATES (Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale)
    • Introduction to Terrain Traps
  • 1200 - 1300hrs - Lunch
  • 1300 - 1630hrs - Curriculum (Theory)
    • Learn how to unpack and use, The Public Avalanche Bulletin.
    • Introduction to Decision Making Competence, Decision Making Quality.
    • Learn how Human Factors & Human Bias can impact risk levels in the Backcountry.
    • Learn the primary support structures to aid you in your decision making.
    • Intro to the AVALUATOR.   
    • Introduction to Google Earth as a pre-trip planning tool.
    • Introduction to technical weather models, and creating your own forecast.
    • Introduction to Good Travel Habits in the Backcountry.
    • Introduction to Avalanche Rescue Techniques (theory). 
    • Gear and Equipment Review
    • Discuss Student Groups for Field Day & Review Meeting Location and Timing for Field Day


Day 2 – Field Day. 7-8hrs.

Venue Dependant on Course Location.
Meeting Time TBA. Start Times vary based on location - 0700-0830hrs.

  • Meet Your Field Guides / Instructors
  • AM - Hazard Evaluation Meeting. Group Exercise.
    • Discuss changes to your weather forecast overnight with your Guide, and assess impacts on Avalanche Hazard Ratings.
    • Review General Plan for the Field Day. Including essential equipment required, and emergency response procedures.
    • Review inputs in the Public Avalanche Bulletin, and relate information in this product directly to our proposed trip plan.
    • Guides to present Waiver of Liability Form for Students.
    • Companion / Avalanche Rescue Gear student sign out.
    • Depart for Field Day
  • Session One - Avalanche Transceiver Basics
    • Introduction of Basic Functions - ON/OFF + Search, Send and Group Check Modes. 
    • Wearing your beacon. Pro's and Con's of wearing in the harness vs. a garment pocket.
    • Learn about transceiver interference, and how tech devices, magnets and other objects can interfere with your transceivers transmitting signal.
    • Learn to complete a "Range Function Check", ensuring your transceiver is functional at a minimum range of 40m.
    • Learn to complete a "Transmit Function Check", ensuring all group members are emitting a transmitting signal as they leave the trailhead and enter the field.
  • Session Two - Terrain Recognition & Verification. The ATES Rating Scale. Developing your Information Set
    • During this session, we'll begin to put into context the terrain principles learned in your Day 1 Theory session.
    • Learn to recognize the difference between avalanche, and non-avalanche terrain. 
    • Learn to recognize evidence of past avalanches to gauge your exposure to potential avalanche hazard.
    • Learn the basics of verifying your position on the terrain, using natural and environmental indicators.
    • Learn Slope Angle Verification.
    • Learn to recognize how snow is redistributed by wind in the terrain, creating areas of increased stress in the snowpack.
    • Learn to recognize how slope aspect and sun exposure can impact the snowpack. 
    • Apply key terrain terminology to features in the field.
    • Learn the basics of gathering snowpack information during travel.
    • Correlate information provided in the Public Avalanche Bulletin and begin to verify the presence of Avalanche Problems in the snowpack during travel.
  • Session Three - Using Your AVALUATOR Card. 
    • Learn to use your AVALUATOR Card in the field to aid in decision making and risk management. 
  • Session Four - Introduction to Snow Profiles
    • Guides demonstrate how to choose a Snow Profile (Pit) location representative of the terrain you want to access. 
    • Learn how to ID the layers of concern, and relate them to the specific problems listed in the Public Avalanche Bulletin. 
    • Learn the Compression Test. A foundational snowpack stability test.
  • Session Five - Avalanche (Companion) Rescue
    • Learn the systematic process for single burial (victim) avalanche rescue. 
      • Assign a leader.
      • Assess for remaining hazard, or risk of secondary avalanche.
      • Head Count
      • Switch Beacons to SEARCH



Logistics to consider ahead of your AST 1 Course:

    • Check out our recommendations for each course location on their respective pages.
    • Students are responsible for their own meals.
    • Students are responsible for their own transportation on course.
    • Students are responsible for obtaining a National Park entry pass for their field days if required.


Required Equipment

Students will require one of the following travel equipment kits to join us on course:

  • Alpine Touring Skis
  • Splitboard
  • Snowshoes

In addition students will require the following:

  • Climbing Skins - trimmed to fit your specific equipment
  • Ski Poles
  • 1 of the following: Alpine Touring Ski Boots / Snowboard Boots / Winter Boots for Snowshoers.
  • Daypack - IMPORTANT: You will require at minimum a 30L backpack. Anything smaller will not be sufficient to hold essential safety equipment. 
  • Sunglasses (for the uptrack)
  • Ski Goggles (for the decent)
  • Lunch 
  • Water
  • Thermos with Hot Drink
  • Sun Screen
  • Small Blister Kit or Personal 1st Aid Kit
  • Small Repair Kit (optional)

Avalanche Rescue (Companion Rescue) Equipment: 
If you have your own beacon, probe and shovel, it's best to arrive with your own equipment. For those requiring this essential equipment, we stock *new rescue equipment replaced yearly, for your use on course, at no extra cost. Our avalanche beacons undergo weekly diagnostic testing to ensure proper function. 

  • Avalanche Beacon (3 antennae unit, must have been purchased new in past 4 years)
  • Avalanche Probe
  • Avalanche Shovel (metal blades only)

Essential Clothing

On our AST 1, this essential clothing list is provided firstly to help support a better quality educational environment for you while on course. On the field day, there will be 20-30 min blocks where our Guides are demonstrating skill sets such as snow profiles, and companion rescue where the group comes to a stop for longer periods. Having the right technical clothing that will keep you warm and dry, serves to provide you with a better quality learning environment. 

  • Base Layers - Either wool or synthetic, or a polypro base layer are the best options. DO NOT wear cotton base layers. 
  • Mid Layers - Again, wool, synthetic or polypro is are best
  • Softshell Jacket or Goretex Jacket
  • Softshell Pants or Goretex Pants
  • Insulated Jacket - Large Parka style jackets are very important for the moments we're stopped during the field day. Down Parka's or Synthetic Down Parka's are a very important addition to your clothing systems for the course.
  • Socks - Wool blend, no cotton.


Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance

The AST Level 1 & 2 Courses are non-refundable. The best method to protect your investment with us should unforeseen arise requiring you cancel your booking, is to purchase a Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance Policy. 

Lifestyle Insurance has covered many of Cloud Nine Guests on trips all over the world, and we have first hand experience seeing these policies activated by our Guests. 

Safeguard your trip costs and investment with us. Request a Quote from Lifestyle Financial.

Is this coverage required?

  • For Canadian Residents, coverage is suggested by not required to register.
  • For Non-Canadian Citizens, coverage is suggested but not required. It is strongly suggested that your policy includes Emergency Medical Coverage, unless you carry alternative policy which will respond in the event of medical emergency.


WAIVER - Release of Liability & Indemnity Agreement

Prior to booking you will be required to acknowledge that you have been provided a copy of our Waiver of Liability Agreement for your review. All participants, or their legal guardians wishing to participate on any Cloud Nine Programs, must acknowledge that they have been presented this document, have read it in its entirety, and understand the agreement being entered into by signing. While there is no obligation to enter into this agreement with us, it is a condition of our service provision. 



Booking TErms & Conditions

Before you book your course, please review our Booking Terms & Conditions. We do not accept bookings without your voluntary acceptance of these terms. Please read carefully as these terms outline specific policies and guidance for both our staff and clients with respect to refunds, cancellations, rescheduling etc.


Please note before booking: The AST Level 1 & 2 Courses are non-refundable programs. 
Those wishing to reschedule their course dates, may only do so pending our course availability. Rescheduling or order changes will incur a $25 administration fee.



For those who prefer our smallest and most focused learning environments. Groups of 4+ can book a Private Group AST 1 on course dates that suit you and your crew best, and one of our ACMG / IFMGA Mountain Guides will join you on your terms. You pick the Group Size, and pick a Field Day venue and date outside those available on our Public Courses. 

Private Rates start at $249/person. Group Discounts available for teams of 6+

How Do We Book It?

Contact our office to confirm availability for your preferred dates. We'll provide you with a private booking link for you and your group, and register either together or individually. We offer Private AST 1 Programs in Canmore, Lethbridge, Golden, Fernie, and Revelstoke.

AST 1 - Five Star Experience

Our family took the AST 1 Course with the team at Cloud 9, would highly recommended them for your guiding needs and in particular the AST course. The online component was well formatted and certainly met the needs during these COVID times. Our field day with Simon was amazing. He was a wealth of experience and shared that with the entire group. He was able to take us through the complete AST journey in the mountains and put everything in perspective. The ability to evaluate terrain and avalanche conditions and then be able to ski some great POW what an experience. High recommend for any one wishing to start there back country adventure" 

J. Freer - Banff, AB

Staying Safe While Learning

My AST 1 course experience with Cloud Nine Guides was exceptional. The online platform was seamless and programming flowed well. Online instruction was engaging and effective and access to well-experienced and proficient guides on field day was invaluable. I appreciated the serious care and attentiveness put towards CoVid-19 concerns and the size of the cohort groups on field day felt more than comfortable. It is clear that careful thought and intention goes into every aspect of planning, logistics, programming and field day decision-making. Very much look forward to booking with Cloud Nine Guides again this season.

- Riley F. Calgary AB.



First Question - Will we get to Ski & Ride?


Learning how to manages descents is an essential skill set for traveling in avalanche terrain. The AST 1 is not a Guided Ski & Split weekend, but learning effective group management techniques which include how to set up a spotter above below, the ability to identify safe exit points mid descent, and regroup positions free of hazard are skills you'll require to safely acquire experience after the course. These are essential skills for any Backcountry traveller.

What's Included?

Your course fee includes:

  • An Experienced ACMG Ski Guide or IFMGA Mountain Guide for the duration of your program
  • An AVALUATOR Decision Making Support Tool 
  • Companion Rescue Reference Card
  • The Avalanche Skills Training Handbook
  • Course Certificate. 
  • Avalanche Beacon, Probe & Shovel

Need avalanche rescue gear? Just request this equipment at time of booking and we'll have it for you on course.

What's Not Included?

The following is not included in your course fee:

  • Transportation
  • National Park Entry Passes
  • Meals
  • Accommodation
  • Ski & Splitboard Rentals
  • Snowshoes Rentals

I'm concerned I may slow the group down or get left behind?

It's unlikely that an individual student could slow the group's progress to a point where the learning environment is compromised. Our Guides see hundreds of students on this course every season and often are required to cater a variety of abilities and fitness levels.

If the day isn't flowing well - that's a reflection of us, not you.

This is my first time on my touring gear - should I bring my new rig on course?


It's a good idea to bring this gear if you're intending to using it in the Backcountry this season. You can prepare for the course by learning at home to transition your equipment efficiently. Practice applying and removing skins, and shifting your bindings from ski or walk mode, and board to and from split mode. When it comes to movement in the mountains, or transitions while on course, our Guides are more than happy to provide tips and tricks to keep you moving on the field day.

Are the groups a mix of skiers, splitboarders, and snowshoers?

Yes. We're an equal opportunity AST 1 Provider.

We will do what we can to create field day groups that group skiers/splitboarders, and then snowshoers together in well matched groups. Keep in mind however, the AST 1 is not a Guided Ski Weekend - having mixed groups does not have an impact on our ability to deliver the course curriculum.

COVID 19 - While we can appreciate that you might want to be in a group with only skiers/splitboarders, or only snowshoers, our priority for the 20/21 season is maintaining cohort groups that book together. We're doing this to reduce the potential for transmission of COVID-19, and matching travel or equipment types will take lower priority for this season.

If you really want to make sure your whole group is on the same travel equipment, we'd suggest booking one of our Private AST 1 Programs.

What if I have to cancel?

It's best to be sure you can attend the course if you plan on booking.
The AST 1 & AST 2 Courses are non-refundable.
You are free to sell your seat and transfer the booking to another person, or rebook for a later date within 1 calendar year of your cancellation. Each transfer or rebooking will incur a $25 administration fee.

Black Diamond Equipment is an Affiliate Supporting Partner of Cloud Nine Guides
Cloud Nine Mountain Guides are IFMGA Internationally Certified
Cloud Nine Guides is a Avalanche Canada Licensed Provider of the AST Curriculum