The ATLAS Academy includes (back L-R): Graeme Marshall

Nelson’s ATLAS Academy helps open up new world for students

In the first month of the new semester for students enrolled in ATLAS, they took part in seven “out trips”


In light of the rescues conducted by the Nelson Search and Rescue in the backcountry near Whitewater ski resort this winter, the ATLAS Academy (through L.V. Rogers Secondary) would like to bring the public up to date on recent learning experiences, training activities and essential aspects to consider before heading out into the backcountry.

In the first month of the new semester for students enrolled in ATLAS, they took part in seven “out trips,” learning adventures in the outdoors. These activities included snowshoeing, ski touring and snow caving in the surrounding Kootenay backcountry.

Filled with teachable moments and heaps of information on survival techniques, avalanche rescue and leadership, my peers and myself have already begun to accumulate a broadening skill set in safety and survival in the backcountry.

Through the month of February our class gathered knowledge in snow science, recognizing weak layers in the snowpack through varying techniques including compression tests, snow pits and terrain evaluation. A surprise for the class was being able to enjoy a full day of ski touring during a considerable avalanche danger rating up at Kootenay Pass. We were able to reach the ridge of Baldy Rocks and ski great lines while maintaining a low level of exposure to avalanches by choosing our terrain wisely, avoiding start zones and being fully aware of the snow conditions present. We made a group decision to ski simple terrain in tight trees instead of open shoots and still managed to hit fantastic powder.

Although ATLAS is an outdoor academy, we dedicate at least one or two days each week to in class studies which include navigation, first aid training and most recently human factor lectures. Human factors are elements of risk entirely created by an individual or group’s willingness to take part in dangerous activities based on peer pressure, familiarity and over confidence. As a group of 16 teenagers, many of who are extremely talented in high hazard sports, we as a class are continuously focusing on limiting these factors to ensure the health of our bodies and the safety of our group.

One of the most profound lessons we cultivated in the first month of our course is humility, overcoming the “ignorance is bliss” stage and recognizing the incredible power and strength a mountain embodies.

We are beginning to understand how to fully immerse ourselves in the beauty and pure enjoyment the alpine has to offer without waking a beast we won’t be able to tame.

Hope to see you out there, stay safe!


For more information regarding the ATLAS academy you can find us on the LVR website at or like us on Facebook at ATLAS – takes you there.


Just Posted

PHOTOS: Nelson goes green for Earth Day

Environment friendly initiatives were promoted at the annual event

Forester’s video animation helps explain Nelson’s wildfire risks

John Cathro’s video shows who owns land in and around Nelson

‘Surrounding a community with a fire break won’t help’

RDCK offers fire danger assessments to homeowners

Carfentanil found for first time in Castlegar

Killer opiod found in local illegal drug market

LETTER: 140,000 jobs are at risk

From reader Robert MacCrae

VIDEO: Nelson students paint Parachutes for the Planet

The youth-led initiative lobbies governments for climate change action

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Ex-mayor of northern village claims its drivers are overpaying ICBC $1,800 a year

Darcy Repen says data shows Telkwa households are being ripped off for car insurance

Deadly synthetic drug found in Kamloops that puts users in ‘zombielike’ state

Interior Health warning says substance causes ‘speedy, trippy-like symptoms’ and hallucinations

Trudeau to be portrayed on ‘Simpsons’ episode

Toronto journalist who’s posted videos of himself doing impressions of the PM voiced him for the show

Elizabeth May’s wedding dress a ‘walk through a garden’ on Earth Day

Green Party leader set to get married in Victoria

Bodies of 3 mountain climbers recovered after last week’s Banff avalanche

The men disappeared while attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak in the Icefields Parkway

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

Most Read