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Avalanche Emeregency Preparedness

Canadian Avalanche Centre urging backcountry users to make cautious and conservative decisions

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Andrea Bagley
Digital Reporter

Friday, March 14, 2014, 11:46 AM -

The Canadian Avalanche Centre is urging backcountry users to be cautious after four avalanche-related deaths were reported in British Columbia and Alberta in less than a week.

SEE ALSO: Avalanche kills two near Lake Louise

The CAC says it's important for people to make "cautious and conservative" decisions while in avalanche terrain.

"We've been dealt a pretty troublesome snowpack this season and our terrain choices need to reflect that fact," explains Karl Klassen, Manager of the CAC’s Public Avalanche Warning Service in the statement issued Thursday. "The weak layers we've been tracking for many weeks remain a significant problem and areas where you might have felt safe in previous seasons may not be the best choices this winter."

The CAC says some of the recent fatal snowmobile accidents occurred in cut-blocks, areas below treeline cleared by logging companies.

Although these areas are typically a safer choice in terms of avalanche danger, recent above seasonal temperatures and wet snow have resulted in instability.

Klassen says "riders need to be wary of avalanche terrain even near valley bottom, at least until a solid freeze occurs."

Until then, backcountry users are urged to travel on small, simple, low-angle terrain with no terrain traps.

According to the CAC, those traveling to the backcountry should have:

  • An avalanche transceiver.
  • Probe.
  • Shovel.

In addition, "everyone should have some training in recognizing avalanche terrain and applying safe backcountry travel techniques," says the CAC.

Avalanche kills two near Lake Louise, while another near Vernon B.C. puts man in serious condition
B.C.: Avalanche in Kootenay Pass leaves one dead, another seriously injured
Avalanche control in the west: Reducing the risks of the unpredictable slides

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