Backcountry enthusiasts eager to spend some time out in the wilderness this BC Family Day weekend should pay attention to a Special Public Avalanche Warning issued by Avalanche Canada.
Avalanche Canada issued the Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry users, in effect immediately until the end of the day Monday, February 12.
The warning applies to the following regions: Lizard Range & Flathead, South Rockies, Purcells, Kootenay Boundary, South & North Columbia, Cariboos, and North Rockies.
For a map of the regions involved, click here.
Avalanche Canada said the snowpack in these areas contains a complex mix of weak layers with the weight of the new snow from nearly three weeks of constant storms triggering many large avalanches in recent days.
As well the pattern of avalanche activity is expected to change beginning Friday when the current storm breaks and a shift from widespread naturally triggered avalanches to more sporadic activity is expected.
“The decrease in natural avalanches coupled with improved weather and the long weekend is a classic situation where skiers and snowmobilers venture into more aggressive terrain where they might trigger avalanches themselves or be struck from above,” said Mark Bender, a senior avalanche forecaster for Avalanche Canada.
“People might be surprised by how large an avalanche can be triggered and how far it could run.”
Avalanche Canada has said there have been numerous surprises and near misses have occurred in the last couple of weeks and a fatal accident occurred between Blue River and Valemount on January 30.
“While danger ratings might come down on the weekend, lingering hazard will exist on most aspects and elevations for several days after the storm breaks,” adds Bender.
“Travelling safely in the backcountry for the next few days will require expert-level skills to avoid hazardous areas. If you don’t have the training to recognize and avoid avalanche terrain, please avoid the backcountry or hire a professional guide.”
Parks Canada and Kananaskis Country have also released special public avalanche warnings for the weekend.
Click here to learn more.
For current avalanche conditions, visit www.avalanche.ca.
For members of the public wanting to learn more about avalanche awareness, there is a course tentatively set for Sunday at the Whitewater Ski Hill.
This one-day introductory course starts in the classroom and then moves out onto the mountain, where students will be introduced to avalanche terrain and get an overview of some of the ways backcountry users can manage hazard exposure.
This course is a recommended pre-requisite for the Avalanche Skills Training Course for those with no previous avalanche skills/awareness.
Participants should come equipped with skis or board. Avalanche gear is not mandatory as this course takes place in-bounds.
Please note there is a minimum requirement of 6 students registered per course date in order for the class to run.
For more information check out the Whitewater link.