Stay avalanche aware if heading out

Stay avalanche aware if heading out

Stay avalanche aware if heading outPeople venturing into British Columbia’s backcountry are encouraged to create a trip plan, be informed about avalanche and weather forecasts, and be prepared for the possibility of an avalanche.

Recent heavy rain saturated and weakened the upper snowpack in several regions in B.C. Until colder temperatures return, the snowpack is likely to remain unstable. Avalanche conditions are dynamic and highly dependent on weather and will change throughout the season.

People are encouraged to check the Avalanche Canada forecasts and danger ratings before going out into the backcountry.

Both the southern Rockies and Purcells (pictured above) are currently rated by Avalanche Canada as having ‘considerable’ avalanche conditions in the alpine and treeline.

Steps to stay safe include:

Know your gear:

Each person travelling in a group needs their own transceiver, shovel and probe, and the training to use these tools. Avalanche Canada has a basic avalanche-awareness tutorial available here.

Get the training:

Everyone recreating in avalanche terrain should have the proper training to manage the risk. Avalanche Canda training courses are suitable for recreationists of all levels and can be found here.

Check the weather:

When planning a trip, it’s important to monitor conditions closely up to one week before you leave. Check the Avalanche Canada website for mountain weather forecast. In the days leading to a trip and the day of, people should review Environment and Climate Change Canada for any weather warnings or special weather statements.

Plan your trip:

Always tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back, obtain the knowledge and skills needed before heading out, and always carry the essentials and know how to use them. Find more information about planning a trip.

“It is vital for anyone venturing into the winter backcountry to have a full appreciation of the hazards and the training to navigate them safely,” said James Floyer, Avalanche Canada program director. “It’s important for backcountry users to read the avalanche forecast and use that information to make terrain choices that match the conditions. Everyone in your group should carry a transceiver, probe and shovel, and have the training to use them.”

Advice from Avalanche Canada:

* Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential gear, such as a transceiver, shovel and probe, and the training to use them.

* Adopt a cautious mindset when in avalanche terrain.

* Be diligent about terrain choices. Adapt your plan to reduce exposure to avalanche danger.

* Follow disciplined group decision-making, ensuring that each group member is engaged in terrain selection.

* Travel one at a time, regroup in safe spots and be aware of overhead hazards when exposed to avalanche terrain.

* Avoid exposure to terrain traps such as gullies, cliffs and trees to reduce the consequences of being caught in an avalanche.

* Be aware of the potential for large, deep, wet avalanches to run full path or even longer.

* In areas where persistent weak layers exist, avalanches may step down to these layers.

During the past 10 years, approximately 75% of all Canadian avalanche fatalities have occurred in B.C.

Approximately 85% of Avalanche Canada’s services are delivered in B.C.

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