Level 3 2017

Spring 2017 was an interesting time for the CSGI, we unveiled the NEW L3 course format. The new format is comprised of two separate and distinct components, the course and the assessment, each is five days in duration. The “course” component is designed to help teach aspiring L3 candidates the requisite skills necessary to guide without supervision in the mechanized ski industry. The “assessment” component is designed to evaluate the guiding skills necessary to guide without supervision in the mechanized ski industry. Each component is taken separately, first the course, then the assessment. This new format allows students to gain experience, skill, and better understand the standard required to succeed during the assessment. This year we had seven participants take part in the new program, two of which were invited to move onto the assessment portion.

The GOAL of the new format is to not only better prepare candidates for evaluations, but to better mentor existing guides as they move through the CSGI progression taking on greater responsibility. The curriculum has been tailored to better match the industry realities of the tasks undertaken by guides each and every day. We aim to train the candidates to the highest standards, and provide tangible and practical situations for better learning.

Given the weather this spring the effort brought forward by the candidates was commendable. They took every task, project, and scenario extremely seriously. Skill acquisition was admirable, and all participants should be very proud of the achievements they attained. Many of those participants will be ready in the future to attend the assessment portion of the new program.

It goes without saying that these programs would not be possible without the cooperation and the dedication of certain individuals. Therefore, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our host Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing, Yellowhead Helicopters and our pilot Steve Tosh, my co-course director Bill Mark, our trusty observer Terry Makos, and of course all our participants who were willing to take a chance on this new curriculum format.

We look forward to seeing more L3 candidates in the future.


Mike Hainault

CSGI, course coordinator


Hi Everyone !

A reminder that the Canadian Ski Guide Association AGM will be held in Penticton BC on May 3, 2017 @ 1:00pm  at The Sandman Hotel.

For a preview of the adgenda please click here.


Hope you all had or are still having a great season ! Safe travels this summer.

HeliCat Canada AGM Reminder

Just another friendly reminder that the HeliCat meetings are on May 1 in Penticton again this year.  If you work in the sector you may find the days activities of interest to you, as well as being good CPD.


You’ll see some more info coming out via our newsletters and on social media in the next few weeks but here are the highlights;

  • Bill Yearwood from the Transportation Safety Board – Talking about aviation safety in our sector (heliskiing and SAR)
  • Doug Strachan from West Coast Helicopters talking about Safety Management Systems and how aviation SMS can (better) integrate with operational risk management systems in the helicat sector.
  • Discussion on proposed new Transport Canada regulations that may impact heliskiing starting in 2018.
  • A provincial executive and consulting biologist will also be presenting on our sectors impacts on wildlife and the changing landscape for wildlife policy in BC – particularly around Goat, Caribou and species at risk.

We are going to have 2 panel discussions – one on aviation safety and another one on wildlife and adaptive management in the HeliCat/Guiding sector.  Should be interesting.


Hope to see you there!

Ian Tomm
Executive Director
HeliCat Canada Association
p: 250-837-5770

CSGI Level 2 – Blue River BC 2016

CSGI Level 2 Course Report:


The course was full with 9 students and 2 instructors:

Warm conditions kept Instructors and students on their toes, with full spring conditions for most of the course.  Despite these conditions Students were able to spend 1 full day and 2 half days mechanized Skiing, one in-conjunction with the L3 course, as well as Heli assisted Ski touring on other days.

2 crevasse/rope rescue practice days occurred on the Diamond Head Ridge, and the exam occurred on the Grizzly Hut upper cliffs. After the first and second field practice days  Students practiced deficiencies in the Guides Haus  after hours.

2 nights were spent out with students building and sleeping in improvised shelters.  Normally the Monashee Chalet in Fin Creek is used but due to very warm conditions the venue was changed to the Grizzly hut up the Mud valley was used.

Other locations used were Thunder Lakes, Smoke Creek and Froth Creek and Taran Lake area.

Bill Mark

April 2016


Summer Glacier Skills Camp

The CSGI will be running another SGSC in Blue River BC again this September.  This is a skills development course for students engaged in the CSGI programs.  The course will include glacier travel, use of crampons and ice axe while travelling on snow and ice, rope techniques, protection, rescue techniques, navigation, route selection, trip preparation and mountaineering ethics.

Dates are Sunday September 10th – Saturday September 16th, 2017

This course requires participants to be in the mountains for a 5 day period.

There are accommodations in town at the MWHS Resort available for the first and last night.

Each student is to provide their own (camp/dehydrated) meals  for a 5 day duration in the mountains.

Summer Glacier Skills Camp

Create a CSGA online account to register for courses

Courses from 2015/16

Once again we had 4 successful  CSGI courses this past year/season. Two Level 1 courses, one in Whistler BC, December 2015 and  the new location of Meadow Creek BC, April 2016.

Also the Level 2 & 3 courses  held in Blue River BC, 2016. Congratulations to all the successful participants and newest CSGA members. 

The upcoming Level 1 course in Whistler BC, December 2016 is close to full, if you are interested get your registration in ASAP.

Summer Glacier Skills Camp, Blue River BC, September 2016

Recurrent Training also in Blue River BC, September 4 – 6 2015.  If it’s time for you to maintain and/or upgrade your  skills this is the place to do it !

* All level 3 CSGA members must attend a recurrent training program every 2 years to remain a member in good standing.

We are still working on the newer courses: Avalanche Training for Guides, CSGI Ski Touring Module number 1 and a few Youth Skills and Development. * These courses are dependent on enrollment.

If you know of anyone that may be interested in participating in any of these courses please have them contact admin@canskiguide.com .

Hope everyone is having a great Summer, have fun and stay safe !


Carrie Holland

CSGA / CSGI  Administration
Office: 250.673.2464 |   Fax: 250.673.2442

E-mail: admin@canskiguide.com  Web: www.canskiguide.com 

How to prepare for your next course

A guest post from CSGA member Bill Mark:

Here are some personal observations and opinions that I thought would be worth sharing from my experience as both a candidate/participant and as an instructor on CAA and CSGA Guides courses.

 Be prepared: The 6 P’s

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Be prepared, practice and train, well ahead of the course.

Get a training buddy and make a regular schedule.

Ideally it’s someone who’s going to the same course so there’s some additional motivation.  It might be someone who’s training for a lower or higher level course, that’s OK too as the sharing of information will help.  Often more experienced folks like to participate and assist, see mentorship below.

Make sure you are training on the right things, to the right standard for the course you are about to take (see below).

Standards and systems: When in Rome

Find out exactly what is required, standards and course objectives.  Talk to someone who has just taken (and ideally passed) the course.  Talk to a current instructor (one who has worked in the last 12 months). Find out who you need to talk to ensure you are training to the correct standard and methods or techniques for that course.  (Also see Hire a Pro below)

 Certain organizations have certain standard ways (techniques) of doing things.  Be it the CAA, CSGA or ACMG, find out and learn the standard systems and techniques the organization conducting the course uses.  Practice and perform this method so you can do it in your sleep, then perform during the course and most importantly on the exam.  This is especially relevant for hard skills such as rope systems.

 Even the best prepared person might get corrected or shown a different way by an instructor when you perform the skill on the course in a non exam setting.  Don’t be defensive or make excuses, you’ve been given a gift on how you can pass the course (shut up and listen).  Listen, observe and make that correction when you perform the skill next time.

Yes, I know your way might be a way better tool, you might be quicker or more efficient, but do it the way the organization and instructors want it done, then you will increase the chance you’ll pass. If you really hate the method so much, once you’ve passed the course you can volunteer to be on the standards or technical committee then you can contribute to the change!  Often if we think about it more often the different methods achieve the same goal, but on a course, do what the examiner wants, it’ll help you pass.  Examiners want you to pass.

Get a mentor early

If you know you are going on a course, find someone (or a few folks) that you can talk to.  It is worth finding someone you can share your mistakes and be able to open up to.  You may want to consult a more experienced person, who may be available to debrief your day of work in the mountains from time to time especially after significant events.

Don’t wait until the moth before the course start the season before.  Mentors are a great way to become a better mountain professional, and to successfully pass courses.  Experience has shown those who find experienced mentors often perform better at courses (and make better decisions).  You may have a number of mentors on different topics.  They can be at your workplace, in your home town or on the phone.  Try using your spouse as a sounding board.


Personal reflection

Take the opportunity to look at your work day in the mountains and reflect on what you did well today and what might you have been able to do better?  For some, making notes helps.  During the CAA L2 Module 1 program, students are urged to use learning journals, this works for some and not others. The key is to thing and learn on a daily basis. Debrief you day with others (See Get a mentor early above)

Train on the hard skills:

On an exam there are often rote skills you will need to perform to a standard, e.g. transceiver tests, snow observations (profiles) crevasse or rope rescue skill demonstrations.  You should make time to practice and to be so good at these hard skills before the course starts.  Then, when exam time comes around it will be low stress and easier to pass these “hard skills”.

This means that when you are at the course you can spend your valuable time and energy on learning watching and refining the “soft skills” like mountain travel and awareness.  You now have the ability to demonstrate and perform at your best for the other more difficult to demonstrate skills such as the elusive “mountain sense”.

 There is nothing more frustrating for you (and the instructor team) to see someone flailing on a transceiver test as they just go a new device and have not practiced adequately on it.  (see notes on knowing your equipment below)

 While I’m on the subject of mountain sense, I have some thoughts on this age old question for both candidates and instructors: How can you demonstrate “mountain sense” as a student, and how can you mark it as an instructor.  It’s my opinion that you can go some way towards learning it through mentorship and experience, but I strongly believe that it’s in a similar vain to music, you can teach anyone to play the guitar but you need the innate ability in the first place to be really good at it no matter how hard you might practice or be coached)

Know your equipment:

If you know you are going on a course, look at all your gear: from skis, bindings and skins, snow safety gear, shovel, probe and transceiver, rescue equipment (improvised toboggans, rope rescue gear).  Does anything look close to being worn out, do you have any pieces missing, does anything need replacing before the course?  If so replace it and use the equipment well before the course begins.  Break in those new touring boots before well before the course.

Take a trip

Where is the exam being conducted?  Is it in your back yard?  Is it in a different snow pack and climate zone.  No matter where the course is It’s always good to take a trip away to train in other areas to broaden your experience.  Travel in terrain and snow packs you are not familiar with.

 Arrive a few days early near the course venue so you can learn more find out from the locals about the weather, snow and terrain as well as get a day or 2 in the field to look for your self.

Hire a Pro for a day

If you don’t have the benefit of training buddies or mentors close by, take a trip and hire an instructor from the program you are taking to get honed up a month or 2 before the course.  If you know some others taking the course get a group together to reduce cost.  Have a list of questions that you want answered so you get the best value for your day out.   This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few ideas, but above all…

Be prepared, train and practice.

This is the personal opinion of the author and not of any organization such as the CAA or CSGA

Bill Mark.



2636_1087111547721_1524411669_221421_2752173_nBill Mark has been working in the winter skiing and snow safety business since the mid eighties.  He began his career as a ski patroller in New Zealand and then worked at Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler where he was a ski patroller and was the Ski Patrol Director until 1999.   Since then he worked full time as a ski guide for Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing where he is now a lead guide.

 He is CSGA L3 certified, and has ISIA full certification (from NZ). He also instructs on CSGA courses and on CAA Industry Training Program’s L1 & 2 courses.



Annual General Meeting 2014

Where – Sandman Hotel, Penticton BC

When – Wednesday, May 7th, 2013 at 1:30 – 3:30pm

Hope to see you there ! Cool

CSGI Level 1 Course Report

March 24 – April 03, 2013
Rossland, BC

The 2013 Level 1 course was held again in Rossland with strong support from Big Red
Cats, Red Mountain Resort and Valhalla Powder Cats.
There were eleven students on the course, all from BC and Alberta. The instructors
were Julian Anfossi, Matt Pinto and Stefan Kreuzer ( CD ).
The weather pattern during the whole course was one of a strong ridge of high pressure
with sunshine every day. Initially we experienced good overnight frost and warm
temperatures during the day and by the end of the course the freezing level went to
3000 meters and stayed there. We did not have any precipitation during the course.
The snow stability during the course followed the typical spring pattern, being very good
in the morning and deteriorating throughout the day with daytime warming and solar
radiation. The biggest hazards were cornice falls and the skiing conditions itself going
from crust to wet snow.
The course went flawless. No accidents, incidents, injuries or glitches whatsoever.
Many of the students had a lot of previous industry experience or other related
experiences. So it was a very strong group of students. The ones with much less
experience worked very hard to come up to standard and in the end everyone
succeeded in passing the exams.
All students had good times in the transceiver exams with the slowest being 7 min 35
sec and the fastest 4 min 03 sec.
The rope rescue exam was also a success with times ranging from 35 minutes to 26
minutes (excluding the building of an anchor ).
On the course we allowed ample time for practicing and review which showed off in the
exam results.
Red Mountain offers some excellent terrain for ski touring in mellow terrain, which is
great for the Level 1 students to start practicing navigation and guiding skills.
Big Red Cats as well is a good introduction to mechanized skiing and Valhalla Powder
Cat’s tenure is a big step up in the complexity of terrain, which offers great learning
opportunities for the students.
The team of instructors worked very well together and the students were pleased with
their level of experience and professionalism, which is reflected in the students course
Overall it was a very successful course and the instructor team is happy to supply the
CSGA with eleven new guides.
Stefan Kreuzer

CSGA Level 1 Whistler BC December 2012

CSGA Level 1

Whistler December 9-19


The first Level 1 CSGA Course of the season was once again held in Whistler. The guaranteed early season snow makes it an ideal venue to start off the season. The combination of Whistler backcountry, Whistler Heliskiing and Powder Mountain Snowcats create a perfect mix of learning opportunities for aspiring Mechanized Tail Guides.


This year we had 17 candidates and 3 instructors get together for an amazing 10 days in a variety of terrain. Rope rescue on “The Monument”, storm skiing on Tricouni, heliskiing on Ipsoot and whiteout navigation in 70 km winds on Flute provided a plethora of learning opportunities for everyone. Big glaciers, open tree skiing and a “sporty” rope rescue exam site were all part of the challenges facing the candidates. Everybody performed very well and by the end of the course, the morning forecasting meetings were resembling a typical Guides Room with lively discussions and valuable information being exchanged.


On behalf of Ian Tierney, Chris Simm and myself, I would like to thank Stuart Remple and his staff at Whistler Blackcomb as well as John Furneaux and the staff at Whistler Heliskiing, for all their help in hosting this course. Thanks also to Don Schwartz at Powder Mountain Snowcats.


We are planning on holding another Level 1 in Whistler next December, so if there are others interested in experiencing the world of Tail Guiding and getting a solid start on a guiding career, I suggest that they get their pre requisites in order and get out in the mountains. Play safe and have a great winter.


Respectfully submitted,

Vlad Lamoureux

Course Director CSGA