BDTours 2011-11-27 08:53:13
BCA Japan (2011-11-29 07:59:31)
Dear BDT

Lets hope we get some snow! Why so early in the season?
Doing an av cse with out a deep snowpack is a waste of time and money.
But your highly qualified team must be aware of that.
BDTours (2011-11-29 12:01:55)
We are offering this course in the early season to allow local residents and seasonal staff to participate and learn before the busy Christmas season begins and they no longer have time. A deep snowpack is in fact not necessary to learn about avalanches, terrain evaluation, companion rescue nor safe backcountry travel – the primary objectives of the course. We will still be able to dig a snow pit and demonstrate snow analysis techniques learning about an early season snowpack. Please look here [url][/url] for additional information on the course material. Regardless of whether you are intending to join this course, I would recommend anyone interested in backcountry travel to visit this site as there is a wide range of excellent, free information available there.

We do also offer courses throughout the winter with at least one scheduled each month through this season, so if you feel you would learn more from another course that option is also available. Our certified instructors are well aware of the conditions required to provide an informative course and a productive learning environment. You will find CAA supported courses available at all times of the winter season wherever these courses are offered.

We look forward to a great, informative course next month but in the meantime, we are definitely hoping for more snow so that the powder days to begin.

Thank you,
The BD crew.
BCA Japan (2011-11-30 08:04:49)
I totally agree with you that there is a lot to be gained from the AST level1 cse, it is a great introduction to avalanche info and tech for people new to riding in avi terrain.
I am happy that the 7hours of classroom study will not be compromised by the outside conditions.
I understand that due to it being an entry level cse CAA have removed a lot of the snow science from the cse and focused on how to gain avi information from professional resources, and combining those with your field observations to make your realtime call on the day.
I am sure you are aware that apart from meteorological info there is a major problem with getting professional avi info here in Niseko once you move out of the Niseko Local Rules Area(even this is debatable).
This forces people to fall back on their personal training and experience.
The worry I have is that the cse has already been simplified to a level that if the quality of the cse is further compromised by a snowpack of less than a meter(and that mixed with Sasa) the learning experience will be diluted. Remembering a little knowledge is usually more dangerous than none.

The average snowpack for those dates in these mountains for the last 3 years has been
Observations taken on Northern aspect at 800m

2008 91cm
2009 89cm
2010 77cm

Even a quick jiffy pit at that depth is of little value, real or instructional.Have they dropped column compression tests from this AST level1 curriculum?
How about probe practice?Yes you can set up grid searches bit how about getting the feel of it?

I am pretty sure potential clients for the cse will be able to find time later in the season If they understood the potential advantages to cse value, after all it can be run over a couple of evenings and one full day in the field most people get a least one day a week off.Come on employers!

My previous post may have been misleading, my apologies for that.
The AST level 1 cse is definitely NOT a waste of time or money as long as you are getting the full undiluted learning experience as outlined by the CAA.
BDTours (2011-12-01 08:49:00)
We can assure anyone interested in this course that all course material will be covered and objectives met. The course will most definitely not be a diluted experience. There is so much to learn about the mountains and how snow reacts with them that the study of avalanches is truly a lifelong experience. While it would be next to impossible to complete this course and leave less prepared for backcountry travel, it is also a false presumption to think that you can simply take a 2 day course and walk away an expert. It is critical that upon completion participants take the knowledge they have learned and apply it in the field. Each day in the backcountry offers an opportunity to see the effect of different terrain, weather and snow on slide hazard conditions all adding to your portfolio of experience.

The catch is that in order to learn about avalanche terrain you must travel within it. This is where the AST course comes in providing an accessible, affordable opportunity to gain some knowledge BEFORE traveling in the backcountry. It is also why course providers around the globe stack more courses in the early season than any other time of year to give participants the necessary skills at the start of the winter so that they can apply that knowledge throughout the rest of the season before unwittingly placing themselves in a dangerous situation.

Regarding the availability of accurate avalanche forecasting information, this is indeed a serious problem in our area. We are currently working with other local operators and the Niseko Winter Guides association to help resolve this issue and improve the availability of information. To BCA Japan - we invite you to join in the discussion if you would like to contribute.

In the meantime, we invite anyone to give us a call or drop by our office any time and we'll be happy to relay information from our weather plot (recordings taken daily at 7am) and field observations. We are currently exploring ways of publishing this data online so stay tuned for details on this.

Fresh snow on the ground so time to get out there!
Thanks for reading,
The BD crew