MAST – Advanced Recreational Avalanche Course

Avalanche safety training is essential for recognition and avoidance of avalanche dangers that are inherent in winter mountain recreation.  The CAA promotes and encourages avalanche safety training for winter recreation enthusiasts through the Recreational Avalanche Course (RAC) program. Members of the CAA instruct RAC courses as either small business or public service ventures using nationally recognized curriculum, instructional materials and student handbooks developed and supplied by the CAA.  RAC training is offered at Introductory and Advanced levels.  RAC instructors have considerable latitude to customize courses to best meet the needs of the participants.  Proof of completion of RAC training, or equivalent, is a pre-requisite for Canadian Avalanche Association Training Schools courses.

In Canada we enjoy the world’s finest opportunities for snow related outdoor recreation.  Each year increasing numbers of skiers, snowboarders, climbers and snowmobile riders are venturing into the mountains with their friends to enjoy these special natural places. Regrettably, each winter some of these people die in avalanches.  The CAA believes the ability to recognize and avoid avalanche terrain and effectively rescue a member of the group buried by an avalanche are essential winter survival skills for outdoors enthusiasts. With support from the National Search and Rescue Secretariat’s New Initiatives Fund, and the collaboration of the Canadian Ski Patrol System, the Alpine Club of Canada and others, the CAA has designed curriculum for Introductory and Advanced RAC training, and produced high quality instructional materials, videos and reference books to promote effective learning progressions that emphasize the most important knowledge and skills.  The CAA encourages and facilitates avalanche accident prevention in Canada by providing these training materials to numerous independent instructors who are CAA members. These individuals conduct RAC training as a small business or public service venture within their communities.

On our CAA course we spent half the first day in the classroom and 4.5days in the field observing hazards, digging snow pits, checking for snow stability at three different locations (Fernie Alpine Resort, Fernie Wilderness Adventures (Cat-skiing) & Castle Mountain in Alberta). This avalanche course was conducted with the majority of the time on skis, touring through the terrain and evaluating the hazards ranging from fracture lines, cornices, temperature, wind and precipitation. Our expert guides where able to answer all our questions and explained many things that we didn’t know or understand. The guides included: Rick Schroeder, Steve Kuijt,  Dave Richards, Rick Emerson and Brian Bell.

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