Category Archives: Courses

AST-1 Course 04/12/10

Steve on the Canada West Mountain School AST-1 course:
“Ten of us joined another 22 people in a course mixing skiers and snowshoers for our AST-1 (basic avalanche) certification. At first I thought the class size was large but what it did was expose us to 4 instructors from a variety of backgrounds.

The classroom component on day one was just the right amount to hold our attention and give us the basics and then it was out to the snow on the first of 2 and amazing Seymour days!

Saturday and Sunday we covered: snow testing, companion beacon rescue, avalanche terrain recognition and more.

A big thanks to John, Linda, and Steve from Canada West Mountain School for the break on price, and all of the wisdom they passed on to us! I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in winter backcountry travel. It wasn’t just educational, it was a blast!”

AST-1 hiking up to the field test

Wilderness First Aid 13/11/10

Adib on a Wilderness First Aid course:
“Eight Wanderung members participated in the awesome Red Cross Wilderness Remote First Aid course. The course was 20 hours, on Friday night we were indoors and learned the basics of CPR, and got our training manuals. Saturday and Sunday we spent in Mundy Park doing hands on stuff in prefect conditions for a wilderness first aid course, cold, raining, and amazing instructors. Peter Ramsey, our instructor, was one of the people who collaborated on writing the red cross manual on remote wilderness first aid how cool is that, yes you can see his name in the Red Cross book!

We learned and practiced so many things other than basic CPR including how to deal with: hypothermia, broken bones, different types of wounds, possible head and spinal cord injuries and many more exciting things. I finally learned how to properly use a first aid kit.

The best part of course was the hands on scenarios our instructors set up, using theatrical make up that looked so real it made your heart beat fast. We dealt with scenarios involving bleeding people, all sorts of body parts, unconscious people hanging from trees, amputated thumbs, sucking chest wounds, pulling someone out of the lake and treating for hypothermia, dealing with shock, heart attacks, strokes, heat exhaustion. Most of the scenarios involved multiple causalities, and we had a very detailed night time scenario took about a couple of hours to get through.

We all walked away from the course with a much deeper appreciation for group dynamics and all the problems that can crop up when there is an emergency and many people involved. We are all much more confident in our ability to provide first aid. We also all felt that we would like everyone that we hike with to have this type of training.”

Wilderness First Aid, Nov 2010

Avalanche course 21/12/09

Heather on Mt Seymour for the AST1 safety course:
“Sixteen Wanderung members participated in the Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 course for snowshoers taught by Canada West Mountain School. This was a 20 hour course, with one evening class and two full days on Mt. Seymour. We all learned a huge amount of information and practical skills about avalanches, how to avoid them, and how to make wise and informed choices for winter mountain travel. The main topics of weather, snow conditions, and terrain were explored and backed up by practical observations, evaluations and skill practice. We had lots of time to snowshoe all over Mt. Seymour, estimating slope angles, picking safe lines of travel in the terrain, digging snow pits to evaluate the types of snow, practicing beacon searches and companion rescue, and generally finding out how important this knowledge can be for anyone doing backcountry travel. My group of eight had great laughs sharing yummy snacks, singing songs, feeding the birds and snow-shovel sledding amidst all the serious learning. A great course, highly recommended!”

On the "hump"

Navigation course 04/05/08

Mary on Ahmad’s navigation course:
“Anne Marie, Mary, David, Christine, Victor and Jennifer waited for the End Café to open at 9 AM. When our instructor, Ahmad, showed up, we were directed to a private corner with a large window facing Commercial Drive. We all introduced ourselves and explained our needs for understanding navigation better. Anne Marie felt she wanted to be able to navigate through a white out. Mary was unsure about which way to correct for declination.

Introductions over, our teacher spread out an array of topographical maps (for more, see ‘topography’ on Wikipedia). There were many numerals involved, challenging for the math phobics! We examined scales/ratios, elevation intervals/contours, slopes & grades and shading & colour. We tried to envision contour lines as landforms – peaks, cliffs, ridges, gullies and saddles. We all tested our understanding by translating the formations on our Seymour map into a 3 dimensional drawing. Artists we were not!

Next the group produced an assortment of compasses – borrowed, faded housings, brand new, squeaky housing. We learned the nomenclature: orienteering arrow, meridian lines, index line. (Again, look up ‘compass’ in Wikipedia for interesting facts.) Using our instrument we took bearings on various features around us; the trees and posts on the street and even a chair in the café. This was not as easy as it seems. There was a great deal of variations in our measurements, some due metal materials around us affecting the magnetic arrow and some error due to inexperience in holding the compass and sighting.

We followed up by applying our knowledge to the map that Ahmad supplied. Before setting off into the wilds one can make directional notes and then it is quicker and easier to move along. This preparation is useful when there are no amenities outside like a flat working surface or good cover from the elements.

Noon passed and finally we set off for the North Shore. At the park we donned snowshoes and sunglasses. Before moving we took note of Dinky Peak in front of us (a local prominence and aptly named). We progressed slowly, stopping and starting along the trail to Dog Mt. As we were standing around measuring, computing and drawing intersecting lines, we got some attention and gentle ribbing from some day hikers: Lost? Treasure hunting? Finally rest, snacks & socializing with a vista of the lower mainland from our peak. At the saddle below the high point, Ahmad felt his little band were fit and confident enough to head away from the beaten track. We climbed up and followed a ridge to Suicide Bluffs, staying well away from the 45 degree slope. We took bearings at various checkpoints. Our destination was the North Shore Search and Rescue cabin that we had spotted earlier. We did get there using a combination of careful observations of the surrounding features, and following some old snowshoe tracks up a steep slope! Homeward bound, we headed the shortest and easiest route to our cars arriving just after 6 pm.

Good advice for participants – don’t impose any time ceiling on a hike, nature knows no schedules and rushing can defeat the purpose. Great workshop. Thanks Ahmad.”