Every year QUSA funds a number of students for personal projects through our grants. Claire Clarkson received a Student Development Grant to complete avalanche training that she can bring back to Quest students and on future endeavors. Read on to see what she had to say about it!

In January, myself and three other Quest students completed our Avalanche Operations Level 1 through the Canadian Avalanche Association in Whistler. This course is a key stepping stone to working as a professional in avalanche risk management operations (which include ski resorts, highways operations, guiding and teaching recreational avalanche courses). In addition to providing foundational industry standard skills, this course promotes continuity of knowledge from current professionals to the future generation of avalanche professionals. More specifically, the Avalanche Operations Level 1 course fosters mentorship opportunities which is crucial to the future success of avalanche risk management industry. In line with the theme of mentorship, the Canadian Avalanche Association provides its Operation Level 1 graduates with the certification to teach introductory level avalanche courses. With that, I hope to share the knowledge and skills I learn from the course with Quest students by offering educational avalanche courses. My intention with these courses is to teach basic skills for safe travel in avalanche terrain, reduce accessibility barriers to avalanche courses (as these courses are often costly) and promote a sense of community and connection for students who are passionate about backcountry skiing. 

On a personal level, this course has allowed me to get my foot in the door in the world of guiding and ski resort operations. Since completing my Avalanche Operations Level 1,I have had multiple opportunities such as volunteering for Whistler Ski Patrol and helping instruct basic avalanche training courses with Coast Mountain Guides. The course has also prepared me for my expedition to Alaska this coming spring by providing foundational skills for safe, respectful and intentional travel through the mountains. In the future, I hope to eventually peruse a career avalanche risk management operations and I am so thankful for the support from the QUSA SDG grant to allow me to being my journey.