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ASI Philosophy

General Information

Who Our Programs Are For:
If you are interested in improving techniques and becoming more efficient in the mountains, our programs are for you. All our programs emphasize developing skills, beginning in structured classes, then polishing those skills on climbs and ski tours.

Our adventures are obviously for active people. Many of our programs may be considered "moderately strenuous", and some are in fact, quite "strenuous". For programs that require specific skills or enter the "more strenuous" realm, we make note in the course descriptions. The following may help you interpret our terminology.

Physical Condition:
Being "in shape" is very important to your safety and enjoyment of many of our programs. You must take the responsibility to determine your physical condition accurately. When no physical condition requirement is stated in a course description, then a "Fair to Good" assessment is adequate because you will be near enough to our training center to take the option to "sit one out".

Very Good physical condition is usually achieved by participants engaged in routine cardiovascular workouts lasting 45 minutes, three to four times a week. Excellent physical condition is usually achieved by more aggressive cardiovascular workouts lasting 60 minutes, 4-5 or more times a week. For the greatest enjoyment of our most demanding programs, we recommend you increase your training program at least a month prior to participation.

Each course description has a Physical Condition Rating with further explanation. Please read them thoroughly. You can also refer to the Harvard Step Test for an additional guideline of self-assessment.

ASI Skiing Ability Levels:
Lift-Served, Backcountry and Ski Mountaineering
We have found that rating systems designed for ski schools at ski resorts are not always appropriate in representing the skills and comfort level necessary for skiing in a remote, wilderness environment. Even though we instruct often at the lift-served ski area, we have recognized and defined skills within our rating system that help prepare skiers for backcountry, high alpine and glacier terrain.

In the following descriptions, alpine skiers can omit the telemark portion and snowboarders need to assess themselves accordingly.

Level I - Beginner Skier is working to develop balance, body position and speed control with a breaking wedge and wedge turns, can perform a kick turn on flat terrain. Mastery Goals: to ski with a solid wedge turn on easier green trails. Overall similar to PSIA Level 2-3.

Level II - Intermediate Skier can ski all green runs confidently with wedge-Christie and wedge-telemark turns and easy blue runs. Is familiar with traversing, side-slipping in a wider, open-stance and can perform a kick-turn on a moderate slope. Mastery Goals: to begin turns from a narrower wedge and make effective pole plants. Overall similar to PSIA Level 4-5.

Level III - Strong Intermediate Skier can ski with open-stance parallel and telemark turns on most blue terrain and advanced wedge-Christie and wedge-telemark turns with a pole plant on easier black runs, and in more difficult ungroomed snow conditions. A Level III backcountry skiers should be able to negotiate a variety of terrain all day with traversing, side slipping and kick-turns if necessary. Mastery Goals: to ski in a comfortable, open-stance parallel or telemark turn on easier black terrain. Overall similar to PSIA Level 6-7.

Level IV - Advanced/Expert Skier can ski short and long radius dynamic parallel and telemark turns on easier black terrain, yet can ski steeper double black terrain with slower open-stance or hop turns. Is confident in light powder but can manage all snow conditions. Mastery Goals: To become proficient in all skiing at dynamic speeds, confident in all snow conditions and terrain including steep chutes (up to 50 degrees) with the Pedal-hop turn. Overall similar to PSIA Level 8-9.

Level V - Extreme can ski extreme. Completely comfortable and confident on long descents up to 50° with other potential challenges such as highly variable snow conditions, large bergschrunds (the large crevasse at the base of a steep couloir).

Climbing and Mountaineering Rating System:
We use the standard American rating system that was developed here in our home range, the Sierra Nevada.
Class 1 - Trail Walking
Class 2 - Off trail scrambling. Possibly steep, loose talus and boulders with occasional need to use hands for balance or pulls, or use of an ice axe.
Class 3 - Hand holds and foot holds needed. Exposure maybe such that a rope is needed. If not an expert, ice axe and crampons.
Class 4 - Rope and belayed climbing, often with anchored belays.
Class 5 - 5.0 - 5.10 and beyond is increasingly difficult rope and belayed climbing where the leader uses intermittent protection points.

Participant Screening:
Our program relies very much upon "self-screening"; the integrity of each individual to assess his or her skill level and physical condition accurately. It is the responsibility of each participant to be aware of the terrain involved and the skills he or she needs.

Please review course descriptions very thoroughly. Detailed ratings of Technical Difficulty, Mountain Skills and Physical Condition are provided. If you have any questions, please call and discuss them with us. Also, it is very important to fill out the section titled previous related experience on our application form accurately.

To protect the prepared participants on our more difficult and strenuous programs, ASI Guides reserve the right to deny any unprepared member's participation at the beginning of a trip, or at any time during a course or program. If such a decision is made, we cannot offer a refund.

Equipment for the Backcountry:
ASI is the leader in the field of providing proven light-weight systems of travel that keep you comfortable and enjoying the quality of experience to its fullest potential. We have carefully planned innovative group systems for optimum efficiency and weight savings. This unprecedented skill along with the long history of experience sets ASI apart.

Personal Gear
A detailed list is already provided on each course description page for you to review. You are expected to provide your own pack, sleeping bag, pad, appropriate clothing, footwear and accessories. A detailed list will be sent upon registration for each course. Rental ski equipment or climbing equipment is available. We also have small accessory items for purchase. We can recommend specialty shops in your area that can help you prepare for your outing.

Group Gear
ASI provides all necessary tents, stoves, fuel, cook sets, group climbing equipment, repair kit, medical kit, electronic avalanche transceivers, shovels, and safety equipment.

Food and Accommodations:
For all our backcountry trips, participants provide their own simple breakfasts and snack lunches (you will receive a suggestion list upon registration). ASI provides all group dinners. They are tasty, practical mountain menus for mountaineers' appetites.

Authorized Land Use:
USDAASI has met Federal requirements, pays user fees, and has been issued permits to operate in: Tahoe, Inyo, Shasta, Eldorado National Forests, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Denali National Park, Bugaboo, Garibaldi and Robson Provincial Parks, British Columbia, Yamnuska Natural Area and Peter Lougheed Provincial Parks, Alberta, Banff, Jasper and Yoho National Parks, Canada.

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.)

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Additional UIAGM-IFMGA International Guides reciprocities apply where appropriate. ASI operates on all public land on a non-discriminating basis, maintains a policy of minimum impact use, and remains sensitive to all users interests.

©2012 Alpine Skills International  
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