quote: I also echo Sandy's comments about the Rockies snow pack being a LOT different than the coasts. Looking at that picture above, I wouldn't go near a slope like that in the AB Rockies unless I absolutely had no choice.
One thing that should be clear is that the Duffey is not "Coastal". When I was doing my professional level exam for the CAA we did a couple of days on the Duffey. One of our evaluators had spent 17 years at Lake Louise doing avalanche control. On the first day, when his thermometer died in the -37C temperatures (this was December), he looked at the 63cm snowpit we had dug that was mostly depth hoar and facets and said "Have you ever seen anything like this before?" My answer was that this was actually a fairly regular occurrence on the Duffey, and it is. That is why a very significant portion of the people who have been involved in serious avalanche scenarios are trained professionals or apprentices from the Whistler area. The Duffey is normally an "intermountain" snowpack, but parts of the range are "continental" that is, shallow, way cold, and tender. The Duffey is rarely Coastal.
Also, for clarification, RAC and IRAC courses are not AST courses. We completely re-wrote the curriculum in 2007 because some research suggested that people who completed RAC or RAC-type courses were MORE likely to be involved in avalanches than "untrained" winter recreationists.
AST1 and AST2 are completely built upon terrain recognition, selection, and understanding "informed and systematic" decision-making by a group. Planning is a significant portion of the curriculum.
This has been a very instructional thread. Again, kudus to Simon and Tim for being so forthright and to the Clubtread community for it's civility and contributions...