Avalanche Canada has issued a Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry users from Friday, January 20, to the end of day on Monday, January 23.
The warning applies to the North Rockies, the northern section of the Cariboos and the northern tip of the North Columbia region. (See the map above).
The recent warm temperatures and new snow have resulted in a dense ‘slab’ layer, which is resting on a very weak base. This combination of factors results in a snowpack that is unstable, making it very easy for riders to trigger large avalanches.
“It was unusually cold and dry in this region through December and early January, giving the area a very thin and weak snowpack,” James Floyer, Forecasting Program Supervisor for Avalanche Canada, said in a statement issued on Thursday, January 19. “We have been anticipating this problem for a while and now it’s here. This week’s warmer temperatures and new snow have created a very dangerous situation for backcountry users.”
He said the problem can be “managed through good terrain choices” but noted that “human-triggered avalanches” will be likely in this region so “it’s vital that riders make conservative choices in their riding.”
Everyone in a backcountry party needs to have an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel. A two-day Avalanche Skills Training 1 course is the minimum training recommended for travelling in avalanche terrain. For current conditions, check www.avalanche.ca.
For more information on our concerns about the shallow snowpack, click here.