With avalanche fatality numbers for this season already adding up, the team behind backcountryskiingcanada.com is starting its third season with new ideas that may make a difference.
Over the summer months, the team conceived of a new way to gather data on preparedness for ski tourers, while immediately educating them on areas for improvement. These surveys could lead to savings in terms of costly rescue programs and in terms of the lives potentially saved through avalanche education.
The survey (the first of its kind in North America) was developed with the help of partners at the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) in Revelstoke and Selkirk College, in Castlegar. It asks simple questions everyone should ask themselves before heading out, like what is the day’s avalanche rating, when their last transceiver practice was, and whether they have packed the key probe, transceiver and shovel tools needed for avalanche rescue. The survey is a followup to 2009s publishing of timely avalanche forecast information local newspapers — also a first.
Of course, a survey is only as effective as the number of people taking it and the recruitment method is one of the survey’s more compelling features. Working with partners Red Mountain Resort and Whitewater Ski Resort, (where the survey will be conducted) Backcountry Skiing Canada will position people at common backcountry access points on the edge of the respective ski area boundaries. People will be asked to participate in the anonymous survey just prior to venturing into the backcountry. This is a good place to find participants and a good time to raise the appropriate preparedness questions.
As an incentive to take the five-minute survey, people will automatically be entered into various random draws for 25 backcountry-related prizes from Backcountry Skiing Canada, CAC and Backcountry Access worth $2,000.
Backcountryskiingcanada.com is a website and community of avid backcountry skiers and snowboarders. The goal of the site is to build a community while promoting fun and safety.