Avalanche Canada advising backcountry enthusiasts reacquaint themselves with proper avalanche safety training and eqipment as winter season begins. Wikipedia photo

Forecasters promote avalanche safety awareness to kick off season

Avalanche Canada advising backcountry enthusiasts to get proper training and equipment.

As the season moves into winter, the backcountry becomes a paradise for adventure-seekers looking to enjoy all that the local mountain ranges have to offer.

However, it’s also time to get smart about the dangers of avalanches.

Avalanche Canada is set to begin daily avalanche forecasts next week, however, given the early arrival of snow, forecasters are telling the public to get the proper safety training and equipment and be aware of conditions before heading out into the backcountry.

Snowfall depth and quality is currently inconsistent in various parts of the region, depending on how high the elevations are, says Grant Helgeson, a forecaster with Avalanche Canada.

“That tells us a couple things,” he said. “One, it’s incredibly spatially variable right now. Two, it’s a lot of work on your skis, sled or snowshoes to actually get up high to the places that we want to ride.

WATCH: Inside an avalanche

“The other side of that, is as we chase that snow up into the higher terrain, we’re actually going right to where any early season avalanche problems exist because if there is enough snow to ride, there’s enough snow to slide.”

The beginning of winter can mean consistent freeze-thaw cycles as the season slowly shifts to colder weather.

That can help set up the mountain terrain for a nice base of snow, Helgeson said.

“You take all that loose powder show and you give it a few freeze-thaw cycles and it shrinks, it gets shorter, it gets denser, and that can really be a nice base,” he said. “But we often look at the freeze-thaw from the valley location, and that freeze-thaw might actually not be occurring in the upper elevations.

“I think in some places it can remain quite cold and windy with a decent amount of snow, say 40-70 centimetres to push around into fresh wind slabs.”

Below the treeline, the freeze-thaw cycle helps to establish the snowpack, however, up in the alpine region, all bets are off.

Getting reacquainted with proper safety procedures and training with the right equipment will help prevent any backcountry mishaps, Helgeson added.

“One thing that happens early seasons, is down low it’s easy for us to get complacent,” he said. “It’s difficult to remember to even turn your transceiver on when you’re standing on dirt at the valley bottom.

Helgeson recommends that backcountry users take the time to learn how to properly work the transceiver and put in fresh batteries and also inspect your shovel and snow probe.

“Then start to think about that, start to think about what you’d do in an avalanche rescue,” Helgeson said.

Taking an Avalanche Skills Training Level One course at the beginning of the season is a great way to get grounded in the proper procedures and safety protocols surrounding avalanche danger, Helgeson said.

Helgeson also encourages backcountry users to submit information and snow conditions to the Mountain Information Network on the Avalanche Canada website. He says users won’t be obligated to give up their secret specific recreation locations, but any information, including pictures, would be helpful to forecasters.

Just Posted

Saanich set to crack down on overnight camping in parks

Local community leader says new measures promise to protect Cuthbert Holmes Park

Victoria woman to cycle Portugal as winner of BC Bike to Work Week

Malene Foyd logged 49km cycling to work with the Ministry of Environment; “I always bike to work, rain or shine.”

Chronic disease no obstacle for ultra-cyclist

Cross-Canada ride raises funds for Crohn’s disease

Victoria man in custody after downtown stabbing

Officers arrested suspect without incident, hours after afternoon stabbing

New kitchen for Mustard Seed built by volunteers

Members of HeroWork spent nearly a month building a new processing kitchen in Esquimalt

VIDEO: Canadian toddler caught practising hockey skills in crib

Eli Graveline is getting praise from far and wide as the internet freaks out of cute throwback video

WEB POLL: Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?

Should illegal immigrants be separated from their children?… Continue reading

5 fun things to do this weekend in Greater Victoria

Victoria Ska and Reggae Fest, Ride Don’t Hide, Cordova Bay Day and more

Late Bellingham homer sinks HarbourCats at home

Visiting Bells take two of three West Coast League games in Victoria, Cats off to Walla Walla

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

Saanich mayor says results of amalgamation referendum are not predictive

Mayor Richard Atwell warns against reading too much into the outcome of… Continue reading

Man shot dead in Surrey ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

Murder of Paul Bennett – a respected Peace Arch Hospital worker and ‘champion of sport’ – ‘not random’

Canadian Syrian children’s choir not to attend festival over fears about U.S. travel

Many kids are recent immigrants from countries covered by Trump travel ban

Most Read