Owner/Operator of Avalanche North, Kirstie Simpson has been providing Avalanche education and training to northerners in Yukon, Northern BC and the NWT for over 20 years. She and all the AST instructors teaching avalanche programs through AvalancheNorth are active or professional members of the Canadian Avalanche Association.
Kirstie comes from a ski mountaineering and marine and mountain search and rescue background and has been exploring peaks and glaciers around the world for over 30 years. She has lived in Canada’s north since leaving BC in 1981 and can often be found in the favourite backyard playgrounds of the St Elias Mountains, Juneau Icecap and the coastal passes between Yukon and Alaska as well as the somewhat more distant ice fields of the Eastern Arctic.
Kirstie has also been the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Handler for the Yukon since 1990 and provides specialist training to SAR members including Parks Canada, the U.S Parks Service, the RCMP, the Canadian Ski Patrol System and the BC Conservation Officer Service as well as community based SAR teams. She has trained 5 Avalanche Rescue Dogs - Alex, Jake (http://canczechdogs.com/) , Bodi and Ulu (in training ) for the Yukon and Macklin, who is based at Whistler BC with his Avalanche Dog Handler/ Forecaster. Kirstie is honoured to work with canczech kennels in Ft Langley BC http://canczechdogs.com/ who have provided her with her Czech bred German Shepherd dogs since 1995.
Check out Bodi working at:
AvalancheNorth has been the Yukon’s premier supplier of avalanche training courses since 1991. As a member of the Canadian Ski Patrol System, Kirstie was involved with the curriculum development of the Canadian Avalanche Centre’s Recreational Avalanche Course (RAC), now the Avalanche Skills Training (AST) course and is committed to providing a national standard curriculum for courses that ensures you get the most current and up to date information combined with an intimate local knowledge of the Yukon snowpack and terrain. All curriculum, instructional materials and students handbooks are provided by the Canadian Avalanche Centre. All instructors are Canadian Avalanche Association Industry Training Program (ITP) level 1 or Level 2 graduates. Information on AST courses can be found at http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/training/ast
In addition to standard AST 1 and 2 courses, AvalancheNorth provides avalanche seminars to youth and high schools as well as refresher courses for public, SAR and ski patrol. AvalancheNorth has teamed up with UpNorth Adventures of Whitehorse, Yukon for the past 6 years to provide students with easy access to course registration and payment as well as special discounts on backcountry and avalanche equipment for AvalancheNorth students. Please check out the wide range of backcountry gear and rentals at Upnorth adventures (http://upnorthadventures.com/) when you register for your AST course.
Other Avalanche Services
AvalancheNorth provides services to the Yukon Coroner’s Service and others regarding avalanche accidents and investigations. In addition we have been the driving force behind the initiation of Avalanche Terrain mapping in Yukon in order to assist the Yukon Department of Education identify safe use areas for Yukon backcountry students. AvalancheNorth has worked with an excellent team of forecasters and terrain mapping specialists over the years and can help direct you to these services for your Yukon avalanche needs.
Public Avalanche Awareness and Awards and Recognition
AvalancheNorth is proud to have been a leader in the provision of public avalanche safety messaging and programs in Yukon for over 20 years and in 2009 Kirstie was the recipient of the Canadian Avalanche Centre’s Service Award recognising public avalanche safety contributions in Canada. In addition, Kirstie is the recipient of the Canadian Ski Patrol Systems’ highest operational award for her work with the CSPS avalanche programs, the National Search and Rescue Secretariat’s Certificate of Achievement in Recognition of Service to Search and Rescue in Canada and the Government of Canada’s Award of Excellence for Exceptional Contribution to the Public Service. In addition, and of note to Kirstie personally, is her recognition in 1998 of a “Woman who is an Educator” by the Yukon Women’s Directorate.
In March of 2010 a new era in public avalanche awareness arrived in Yukon with the formation of the Yukon Avalanche Association. Kirstie is a founding Director of the YAA and is the current president. For more information on this exciting new initiative please go to www.yukonavalanche.ca