Parks Canada is investigating several recent incursions into a prohibited area, including one where backcountry skiers entered a place that’s regularly blasted to bring down avalanches along the highway through Rogers Pass, B.C.
Staff discovered fresh ski and snowboard tracks in Macdonald West, part of a closed area in Glacier National Park, on Wednesday.
No one from Parks Canada was immediately available for an interview, but spokeswoman Shelley Bird confirmed the breach in an email to The Canadian Press.
“The offenders were not discovered at the site and the incursion is still under investigation,” she wrote. “The area is closed throughout the winter as the slope is an important part of the snow pack monitoring program used to forecast when avalanche control is needed to protect the Trans-Canada Highway in that area.”
Certain areas are closed for skiers throughout the winter because the military regularly uses explosives as part of an avalanche control program. Other areas along the highway are only accessible through a permitting system.
The incursion led to a stern warning that was posted to several Facebook pages dedicated to backcountry skiing.
“THIS CANNOT HAPPEN EVEN ONCE MORE, NADA, NEVER, GET IT?” wrote Douglas Sproul, who posted a message on the Revelstoke Ski Tourers group. “We, as the public that are so fortunate to be able to access these areas, MUST come together to ACT NOW.”
Canadian soldiers use a 105-mm howitzer to bring down snow along the Trans-Canada Highway in the steep narrow valley east of Rogers Pass, about 340 kilometres west of Calgary.
There are 134 avalanche paths along a 40-kilometre section of the highway.
The areas are dangerous because there could be unexploded shells.
In addition to the skiers, park wardens in two mountain national parks have also dealt with two snowmobiling infractions in the past week.
On Thursday, officials were called to the Quartz Creek area inside the Glacier National Park boundary because a group of snowmobilers had become stuck.
It came days after an earlier offence was reported in the Saint Cyr area of Mount Revelstoke National Park.
Both are being investigated because snowmobiling is illegal in the mountain national parks and can result in a maximum fine of $25,000.
Snowmobiling in a national park can also lead to the seizure of the sled.