Wilderness Ski Guiding – Work and Fatigue Survey

Your input is important !

Please take 20 minutes to tell us about your work experience and opinions on work and fatigue with the Wilderness Ski Guiding industry.  By participating in the survey, you have the option to be entered into a draw for one of two $50 Visa gift cards.

This survey has been designed by Optimal FiT Inc. in collaboration with Ian Tomm, sector consultant, and the support of HeliCat Canada and numerous other sector trade associations.  It considers recognized best practices for managing workplace fatigue and is open to all workers in the sector. Completed surveys will be stored and analyzed by Optimal FiT Inc. and discrete data destroyed after the project is completed.

This survey is a first step in understanding fatigue in this unique and internationally recognized sector.  By taking this survey, you will help this project identify the extent that fatigue may impact performance and safety.  Results will be used to focus further discussions and identify actions and next steps to improve.  

This project is funded in part by WorkSafeBC’s Small Initiative Funding and is supported by:

  • Association of Canadian Mountain Guides 
  • Backcountry Lodges of BC Association 
  • Canadian Avalanche Association 
  • Canadian Ski Guide Association 
  • HeliCat Canada Association   

Should you have any questions or concerns about the purpose of this survey or how the data will be used, please do not hesitate to contact:

Jason Kumagai
Principal Human Factors and Fatigue Specialist, Optimal FiT Inc.

Here is the link to the survey:  


This survey will remain open until August 31st, 2019.    


Ian Tomm & Jason Kumagai

Important info regarding Changes to the CAA Level 2 Operations Certification

Beginning in winter 2020-21, the Avalanche Operations
Level 2 program assumes a new configuration. Instead of
the current three module system, we move toward two
components: Avalanche Operations Level 2 and Avalanche
Operations Level 2 Assessment.
The first component, named Avalanche Operations Level
2, is a combination of the current modules 1 and 2. The
second component, named Avalanche Operations Level 2
Assessment, is the same as the current module 3 where
students’ skills and competency, in both technical knowledge
and practical application of Level 2 concepts, are evaluated
(see Fig. 1 below)
Given the changes, there will be benefits, challenges and
implications for current students.

The driver behind the Level 1 and Level 2 curriculum
development and course delivery modification is the
Competency Aligned Avalanche Risk Management Training
(CAARAT) project. For the past three years, we have worked
to align curriculum to the competency profiles. The project
is also an opportunity to improve, revise, update, and revisit
courses that normally only see small scale changes on an
annual basis.

The idea of combining Modules 1 and 2 was proposed by
a Level 2 working group during a CAARAT project meeting
in June 2018. This group is composed of CAARAT project
members, representatives from the industry, CAA students,
ADAPT project members, and Industry Training Program
instructors. The proposed idea was then approved by the
CAA’s education committee later that summer.
As with any change, there are benefits and costs as well
as implications for current students. Below are some of
the benefits and costs that were identified by the Level 2
working group.

• More fluid learning progression from concepts to
• Better continuity and opportunity for instructors to
provide feedback
• A mix of indoor and outdoor activities to break up
classroom time
• Integration of theory with practice
• Reduced time spent reviewing prior learnings
• Less expensive for students (fewer sessions, less travel)
• Students must attend a 7 to 8-day course during the winter
• Shifts between field and classroom days (i.e. continuity of
weather and snowpack tracking)
• Enrollment per course limited to 18 students (vs. 30-36 on
current Module 1)
Ultimately, it is recognized that more time off during
the winter months comes at a cost to both students and
employers. However, it was deemed that the benefits
outweigh these costs.

The Avalanche Operations Level 2 program began in the late
70’s and was originally delivered as an 8-day course which
included several assessments. In 2002 the CAA implemented
a significant change in the Level 2 program where it
went from being an all-in-one course to three modules.
The outcomes of the three-module course delivery were
excellent: a more comprehensive curriculum, additional time
for feedback and coaching in a non-evaluative environment,
interactive student exercises, and an opportunity for career
professional development.
Over time, it became evident to Level 2 instructors that
there is a disconnect between the Module 1 classroom
concepts and actual application of that learning during the
field-based Module 2 (for example linking Module 1 lessons on
situational awareness to field work objectives on the Module
2). The time between Modules 1 and 2, at least 1 month and up
to a year, made it difficult for students to retain key learnings.
Changes to the Avalanche Operations Level 2 training are
coming into effect to create an environment that better
supports learning, application, and retention.


At this point, we will be running Avalanche Operations
Level 2 courses as per usual for winter 2019/20. However,
there is a caveat. Newly approved applicants must complete
both Modules 1 and 2 during the 2019-20 season. If these
applicants are unable to complete both modules in the 2019-
20 season, they must defer registration until the following
Level 2 students who are in the program already (e.g.
they’ve taken a Module 1 or 2 this winter 2018/19) must
complete the remainder of their modules next season
In brief:
• Level 2 students who have taken a Module 1 or 2 this
winter (2018/19) must complete the remainder of their
modules next season (2019/20)
• Newly approved applicants (2019/20) must complete both
Modules 1 and 2 during the 2019-20 season. Those unable
to complete both modules in the 2019-20 season must defer
registration until the following winter

The Avalanche Operations Level 2 program has stood the test
of time. This is the first large-scale change in 17 years and,
although there are challenges associated with this change,
we believe that these are outweighed by the benefits of
increased course quality and educational experience.
We’re excited to see the Level 2 outcomes of the CAARAT
project come to fruition in winter 2020/21. In the meantime,
project team members are working hard behind the scenes to
revise, update, and improve upon existing curriculum.
If you have any questions, please contact Emily Grady,
Industry Training Program Manager.
Each year the CAA’s Industry Training Program modifies its courses
based on new research, student & instructor feedback, and current
best practices. At times, these modifications are more substantial
and involve external funding. For example, over the past two years
an ongoing project is working to align the Avalanche Operations
Level 1 course curriculum1 with the CAA’s competency profiles.

Ski Cutting Research Survey

Hello CSGA Members,  

See below to participate on a Research Survey about Ski Cutting, if you have a few minutes to contribute it would be much appreciated.

If you have anything you would like to share please send an email to: bruce.jamieson@snowline.ca  

Hope your are all enjoying the Spring so far !
CSGA Administration

Ski Cutting: A Research Survey
Ski cutting is a common practice for avalanche practitioners to test for unstable snow and to mitigate avalanche risk. It is also one that puts the practitioner in close proximity to avalanche hazard. For all its prevalence, ski cutting has rarely been the subject of academic study.

Bruce Jamieson and his fellow researchers have created a survey to gather information about North American practitioner experiences with ski cutting. The CAA encourages you to take the survey if applicable to you. We look forward to sharing this information with members when the survey analysis is complete.

Click here to participate: GO TO SURVEY


Hope everyone had a great season. It’s that time of year again.

The CSGA Annual General Meeting will be held in Penticton BC, Wednesday, May 8 at 1:30 pm at the Sandman Hotel.

Agenda will be posted shortly ~

Lisa Korthals Memorial Bursary

The Lisa Korthals Memorial Bursary provides financial aid to those women who are pursuing a career in mechanized ski guiding through the CSGA. Eligible for any women applying to CSGI accredited courses such as CSGI Level 2, 3, SGSC or Touring Module. Preference will be given to someone that has already completed the Level 1 CSGI course and is looking to advance through the CSGA program.

The committee reserves the right to not award a bursary in any given year if a suitable candidate has not applied. At the discretion of the committee, there may also be multiple recipients in a given year. Funds will be transferred at the completion of the course. The course must initially be paid in full by you. Applicants should apply online. The following should be included in your application package:

  • An essay describing your development as a guide, how you feel you embody Lisa’s adventurous mountain spirit, your contribution to supporting others, female or otherwise, in the mountain environment and your future goals.
  • A reference letter from a mentor in the guiding industry
  • A resume of work experience and relevant personal adventures
  • A photo so that we may put a face to your story

If you have any questions please contact admin@canskiguide.com

Deadline for this years applications will be April 7 of the calendar year the courses are offered.

To be considered for the LKMB, please fill an application here

CSGA Touring Module

CSGA is happy to announce a Touring Module will be held this Spring near Kaslo BC, at Mt. Carlyle Lodge. Dates are April 24 – 26, 2019, cost is $750.00 plus tax.

This course will be run in 2 parts:

  1. A three day course (April 24-26, 2019)
  2. Following year, 3 day exam (Date TBD)

Seats are limited to 8 people. Get your application in ASAP to ensure a seat on the course, first come first serve.

Fill applicaiton here:

Level 2 & 3 Course Reports

 Level 2 – April 9-19, Blue River and the Monashee Chalet

The level 2 program had 16 students, 9 Candidates were successful, 3 will have to complete hard skills re-testing (beacon or rope rescue) and 4 candidates were unsuccessful.

Level 3 Course April 9-14, 2018

This is the second year for the 2 part program, the first 5 days consists of a training course with no exam.  The emphasis for the course is on demonstration, coaching candidates and setting out the L3 standards.  The instructors (and the students also) believe that this year’s program was successful.

4 candidates participated and were exposed to 3 instructors during the 5 days.  At the end of the program all candidates were given feedback on their performance and given suggestions on areas to improve.  A big emphasis for all candidates is to keep training and use mentorship to build skills and experience.

All L3 course participants will be able to attend the L3 exam next year if they feel they are at the standard.

Level 3 Exam: April 15-19, 2018

This is the first year where L3 exam candidates must have attended a L3 course at least 12 months before taking the exam. The L3 exam has no training or coaching component but jumps straight into testing and assessing candidates’ performance in relation to the L3 standard.   The program consists of 4 full days of testing and assessment with final evaluations completed on the day after the exam.

This year 2 candidates attended.  During guiding demonstrations 2 examiners were present to ensure consistent and fair assessment of candidate’s performance.  Both candidates will have to re-test some hard skill in the next 12 months.

Weather and Venues

Mike Wiegele Heli-skiing, Guides Haus was used for all meetings.  Daily filed trips consisted of Heli assisted ski touring, Mechanized (Heli) skiing and valley training and practice stations

All students were required to snow camp for nights, based around the Monashee Chalet, owned and built by the Teufele family, kindly allowed by Bernie Teufele.

We were challenged by highly variable weather and in-accurate weather forecasts so the instructors and students had to remain flexible as to the daily (and hourly) plans.  Despite the weather the objectives of the course were achieved.  Blue River is an excellent course location since there is a large range of terrain close to the lodge.

We were supported by Yellowhead Helicopters who supplied an A-star B3, which has great advantages especially when mechanized skiing with up to 5 groups.  Pilot, Steve Tosh is a great asset as he enjoys teaching and coaching candidates.

Curriculum, Marking and Feedback

Student evaluation feedback and Marking

A draft Marking and assessment document was created by the L2 & 3 instructor team.

This was distributed to the students at the start of the course and we think was worthwhile but is a work in progress

Candidate hard skills re-testing

As in the past, if a candidate fails a hard skill (rope or beacon exam) but performs at the standard in all other areas, then they are able to attend a re-test.  To ensure consistency between courses, a draft hard skills re-test procedure has been developed.  It will be posted to the website and discussed early in all courses.





COVERAGE: 24/7 coverage, anywhere in the world

INSUREDS: All eligible guides (Canadian residents covered by Provincial Health Care) who are registered with the Policyholder (under age 70).

MANDATORY BENEFITS: $25,000 Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D)

$1,000 Accidental Dental Reimbursement Benefit

$10,000 Accidental Medical Reimbursement Benefit

$15,000.00 Family Transportation Benefit

$5,000 Funeral Expense

$15,000.00 Home Alteration & Vehicle Modification Benefit

$5,000 Identification Benefit

$15,000.00 Rehabilitation Benefit

$1,000 Rehabilitative Physical Therapy Benefit

$15,000.00 Repatriation Benefit

OPTIONAL BENEFITs: $800.00 Weekly Accident Indemnity (Total Disability – payable on the 21st day for 26 weeks, must be gainfully employed and under age 65)

Diagnostic & Specialist Access Insurance (DSAI). This allows for insured members to have access and treatment within 3 weeks for MRI, CT scans etc for injuries.

MANDATORY ANNUAL PREMIUM: AD&D $105 per guide per year.

OPTIONAL ANNUAL PREMIUM: WAI $420 per guide per year.

DSAI $139.00 per guide per year.

$278.00 per Member & Spouse only

$416.00 per Member, Spouse and dependent children


  • Aircraft exposure while travelling aboard regularly scheduled airlines and while flying as a passenger and/or observer, but not as a pilot or crew member (pilot in command). Coverage includes a flight in connection with any authorized guiding (helicopter skiing).
  • WAI definition attached in separate document.
  • Coverage for contractors and sole proprietors. Proof of income required.
  • Mandatory coverage for all members.
  • Policyholder to maintain a proper record of the member listing and remit premiums.
  • Guides must be Canadian resident and have provincial health coverage.
  • Rates will be guaranteed for 24 months

Thank you,

CSGA Administration

CSGI level 1 Keefer Lake Lodge / Kingfisher Heliskiing 2018

The CSGI held a successful level 1 course based at Keefer Lake Lodge on April 3-13. Instructors were: Mike Hainult, Tyler Toews, Jason Martin, Ron Betts and Matt Devlin. There were a total of 19 course candidates hailing from various parts of the world including: Japan, England, Utah, the Yukon, B.C and Alberta. Many of the students are already working in the cat or heli industry as tail guides.

The course started out cold, turned warm and ended windy and stormy which challenged the candidates at many levels especially on rope rescue day!

Keefer Lake Lodge was a very nice venue for everyone to enjoy, their staff was super attentive, and the food was great. Most of the course utilized two snowcats with Keefer Lake in their terrain, and Kingfisher Heliskiing hosted one day of heliskiing close by Keefer Lake.

Of the 19 students, 16 passed the course, 2 had a conditional pass requiring a retest in a hard skill, and 1 did not meet the level at this time.

On behalf of all the instructors and the CSGI, we wish all the candidates the best of luck obtaining work in the mechanized skiing industry and further education in the mountain environment.

Cheers and have a great summer!

Matt Devlin

Course Conductor