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Mountain Adventure Skills Training (MAST) Certifications

In order to enjoy what the mountains have to offer to the fullest extent there are some safety courses that we need to add to our resumes. Those who take MAST leave the year with some valuable certificates. As of February we have already obtained three key certifications: 80 hour first aid, Avalanche Safety Training (AST) 1 and 2, and ski/snowboard instructor level 1. These courses provide MAST students with not only valuable knowledge to keep ourselves and our friends safe but also help us to qualify for future careers in the outdoor industry.

Two choices were given for first aid certifications: Occupational First Aid (OFA) 3, and Wilderness First Responder (WFR). Each course offers its own benefits and is a huge asset moving forward both personally and professionally. To compare them simply, the OFA prepares you for workplaces incidents and allows you to treat coworkers. WFR is specific to wilderness situations and gives you the skills needed to care for someone when definitive help is a long way away. When searching for a job in the outdoor industry it is often a requirement to have one, or both of these courses. For example, raft guiding, hiking guiding and ski patrol all require you to have first aid.

Our AST course was a ramped up version of a conventional AST 1. We spent two days in the classroom and three outside, compared to the usual three day course. This allowed for us to learn the technical knowledge and then put it into extensive practice. We spent days 3 and 4 scouring the landscapes for avalanche hazards, learning how to identify avalanche terrain and running drills to practice with our rescue equipment and procedures.

Day 5 of our AST 1 we were treated to a really exciting adventure: cat skiing at Fernie Wilderness Adventures (FWA.) Arriving in the pre-dawn darkness we loaded our skis onto the back of a large yellow machine that appears to be a cross between a tractor, and something from Star Wars. The experience felt extraterrestrial as we crawled up the mountainside cresting the summit near the same time as the sun. We then spent the day exploring the terrain FWA has to offer and learning how to choose ski paths up and down the slopes.