BCA Operational Avalanche Search and Rescue Training at Fortress Mountain

Backcountry Access (BCA) is hosting a day of Operational Avalanche Search and Rescue (AvSAR) training with the support of Fortress Mountain / KPOW Cat Skiing in the Kananaskis, Alberta.

Contact Jordy Shepard to enroll and confirm attendance.

Download attached overview sheet for more information.

Course Date and Location:

Tuesday March 27, 2018 at Fortress Mountain Resort.  Meeting time will be 7:30am at the Stoney Nakoda Casino parking lot, at the junction of Hwy 1 and Hwy 40 south.  We can then convoy south (leaving the Casino by 7:45am) to the Fortress junction (a 20 minute drive south of Nakiska Ski Resort).  Note that there is no cell service south of Nakiska, so if you miss meeting us at the Casino, you won’t be able to get past the locked gate at the base of the Fortress Road, and you won’t be able to contact me.

We will then organize ourselves at the base of the Fortress road to carpool in 4×4 capable vehicles to get up the Fortress Mountain road to the base of the ski hill.  We will be training beside the parking lot, so no need to bring ski/snowboard gear unless you want to.  Bring warm snow boots, warm clothing, and food/water/hot drinks.  There is a bathroom beside the parking lot.


This one day field based training seminar reviews best practices in Avalanche Search and Rescue (AvSAR) for operational search and rescue team responders. The seminar focuses on the Incident Command System (ICS), communication, and risk management; participants will learn and practice individual skills, and will then work as a team through several AvSAR response scenarios. There will be an operational debrief and feedback given after each scenario.

Participants should be actively working in the avalanche industry (guiding, ski patrol, volunteer or professional search and rescue etc) or should be aspiring to become employed in the avalanche industry. This training seminar is not appropriate for purely recreational skiers/climbers that have no intention of becoming an avalanche professional. The Companion Rescue Skills training that is offered by many Avalanche Canada training providers would be more suitable for recreational skiers/climbers.
There will be a waiver for you to sign at the start of the training. Please review the waiver here, and let Jordy know if you have any questions.

It is strongly recommended that participants are graduates of the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) Operations Level 1, and have completed an Incident Command System (ICS) course to at least the ICS 100 level. However, theses are not firm pre-requisites, and all attendees will be able to contribute and learn. As we will be utilizing Incident Command System terminology and professional level avalanche rescue techniques, having CAA Operations Level 1 and ICS 100 will set participants up to get the most from this intensive one day training seminar.

Topics covered include:

  • Command and Control – Incident Command System
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Requesting and Mobilizing Resources
  • Span of Control
  • Communication Networks
  • ICAR Wanding – International Commission for Alpine Rescue recommendation for marking avalanches
  • Leading AvSAR Responses
  • Risk in AvSAR
  • Staging / Accountability
  • Best Practices for Transceiver Search, Probing and Shoveling
  • AvSAR Equipment
  • Basic Life Support (BLS) considerations in AvSAR

Travel Method:

We plan to run the training roadside (or within easy walking distance from a road). Just snow boots will be required. You will not need skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles.

Equipment Requirements:

  • Transceiver (with fresh batteries), probe and shovel (we will have BCA transceivers for you to use if desired).
  • Backpack
  • Food/Water for the day
  • Winter clothing and layers for variable mountain weather, gloves, toque (bring extra clothing)
  • Touring skis with skins, split board with skins, and snowshoes are optional. All you really need is just warm winter snow boots.
  • Warm footwear (ski, snowboard, or snow shoe boots, or just winter snow boots)
  • Sunscreen
  • Notebook (Rite in the Rain) and pencil

BCA will provide:

  • Practice transceivers – you can demo a BCA transceiver if desired
  • Targets and avalanche dummies for probing
  • Extra BCA probes and shovels
  • BCA Link radios for team communications
  • Incident Command vests and command boards with AvSAR plan
  • RECCO R9 search unit and RECCO targets
  • ICAR wands and laminated wanding card
  • BCA products for participants to try out
  • BCA Cool Stuff Swag!

Course Cost: Free!

Course Facilitator: Jordy Shepherd ACMG/IFMGA Mountain Guide; CAA Professional Member

Email: Jordy@PeakAlpine.com Cell: 403-609-8561