The calendar may say it is spring, but most mountainous areas of western Canada remain cold and snowbound. And as the Easter long weekend approaches, the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) wants backcountry users to keep avalanche safety in mind.
Winter’s hold has prompted the CAC to extend its forecasting season. “In a normal year we shut down the forecast office at the end of this week,” says Karl Klassen, manager of the CAC’s Public Avalanche Safety Service. “But the way this season is going means our services will be needed for a few weeks yet.”
While skiers and snowmobilers are enjoying the extended season, they should continue to plan trips and manage risks as if it were winter. The CAC also wants to send a message to other backcountry users who may not be as familiar with avalanche hazard.
“Where valley bottom trails are clear of snow, hikers, dirt-bikers, and people on quads will be planning outings as well,” Klassen said. “These activities may still be exposed to avalanche hazard from the slopes above. We want everyone, no matter what their mode of travel, to be aware of the possibility of avalanches this spring. Pay attention to the slopes above you and don’t linger in any area exposed to avalanches.”
Every member of a backcountry party needs to be equipped with a shovel, probe and transceiver. The CAC strongly recommends that all backcountry users take an avalanche awareness course. Snowpack stability changes constantly throughout the winter; backcountry users need to check the avalanche bulletin regularly to keep informed of conditions in their area. Avalanche bulletins are can be found at www.avalanche.ca.