The Canadian Avalanche Centre is continuing its avalanche warnings.

Avalanche awareness: It’s vital to safety in the backcountry

The Canadian Avalanche Centre continued their special avalanche warning Tuesday saying that conditions “remain very tricky”.

  • Feb. 26, 2014 8:00 a.m.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre continued their special avalanche warning Tuesday saying that conditions “remain very tricky” despite improving weather.

“Avalanche danger can rise quickly with the first day of full sun,” read their website.

The special public warning was originally issued for most of BC’s mountainous regions on February 20. An extended dry period from late January to early February created an unstable snowpack unable to support the mass of new snow.

“That weakness is currently anywhere between one and two metres deep so when it’s triggered, the resulting avalanches are very large,” said Karl Klassen, manager of the CAC’s public avalanche warning service.

Backcountry enthusiasts intending to head into the mountains are advised to check the avalanche bulletin regularly to keep informed of the conditions in their area.

But before considering adventuring into the backcountry, CAC strongly recommends users take an avalanche skills training course. Whitewater Ski Resort offers a one-day introductory course as well as a three-day course.

Selkirk College also offers avalanche training and while the class has already started for the winter session, if seven or more people require training, a custom course can be arranged through Selkirk’s Continuing Education at selkirk.ca/ce/

In addition to proper training it is recommended that those entering the backcountry have essential gear. CAC advises people carry a transceiver, probe and shovel — and know how to use them.

Additional recommended gear includes airbags to reduce burial depth, a helmet, RECCO, an electronic method of finding a person or persons buried in snow, and releasable bindings.

Some receivers such as single or dual antenna digital transceivers are obsolete and plastic shovels should be avoided.

Avalanche safety is an issue pushed to the forefront this week as the danger is high and several avalanches have occurred — one claiming a life of a local man.

A 27-year-old was killed and a local woman, 27, was taken to hospital Sunday after an avalanche came down in a remote section of Kootenay Pass between Nelson and Creston. There were four skiers in their group and six other skiers in the area that day.

There were several avalanche incidents on the weekend and north of Whistler, another man also died Sunday while snowmobiling with friends. Earlier this month an avalanche took the life of another snowmobiler on Boulder Mountain, near Revelstoke.

A class four out of five avalanche closed the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt for two days late last week and avalanche control continues on several stretches of highway in the province.

The warning issued by CAC February 20 was extended until the end of the day on Wednesday.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre can be found online at www.avalanche.ca or followed on Facebook under the same name.

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