Avalanche warning for backcountry recreationists

Recreational users urged to exercise caution and restraint

Avalanche Canada has issued a special public avalanche warning for the Sea to Sky region, including areas adjacent to but outside the ski area boundary of Whistler-Blackcomb, the North Columbia, Cariboos and North Rockies regions.

This warning applies to recreational backcountry users and is in effect until March 29.

A winter of unusual weather has created a complex and unpredictable snowpack, says Avalanche Canada public avalanche warning service manager Karl Klassen.

“Avalanches are being triggered both in the newer, surface snow and in deeper layers that formed earlier in the winter. This challenging scenario is resulting in numerous close calls and led to two fatalities last weekend.”

These conditions are expected to continue for some time and Avalanche Canada recommends backcountry users stay on simple, low-angle terrain; avoid large, steep slopes; minimize exposure to overhead hazard; avoid travelling where other users are on slopes above; and re-group in safe zones away from avalanche run-outs until conditions improve.

If you do not have the training or experience to assess avalanche terrain and local conditions, it’s a good idea to recreate where avalanche risk is professionally managed, says Klassen.

All backcountry users must be equipped with essential avalanche safety equipment. Everyone in the party needs an avalanche transceiver, a probe and a shovel every day. It’s equally important that everyone has avalanche training and has practiced using this equipment. If an avalanche occurs, the rescue is up to you. There is no time to go for help.

For the avalanche forecast, check www.avalanche.ca. For further thoughts on conditions, refer to the Forecaster Blog at www.avalanche.ca/blogs.