Heightened avalanche risk across B.C.

A slide triggered yesterday afternoon in the Valemount area claimed the life of a snowmobiler and served as a deadly reminder of the heightened avalanche risk across many parts of the province. It also puts an even greater onus on outdoor enthusiasts to be aware of the dangers when going out into the backcountry this winter.

The Canadian Avalanche Centre is putting out a special warning for most regions in B.C.

“The warming temperatures that are happening throughout B.C. affects weak layers below,” Sandra Riches, Canadian Avalanche Centre said.

“So the special warning is to make people think about where they’re going and what they’re doing and if they’re prepared for these conditions.”

This weekend’s sun and warmer temperatures are also a concern for the Canadian Avalanche Centre since it can lead to something known as Blue Sky Syndrome. The syndrome causes a false sense of security in good weather, where snow enthusiasts become more aggressive and think less about avalanche danger in the backcountry.

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All around the province this weekend there were various Avalanche Awareness Days.

“To really understand what the risk is you really should take the two-day ASD course,” Clayton Prince, Kelowna Snowmobile Club President said.

Search and rescue experts say the importance of planning for a safe time in the backcountry is essential to your survival. In Canada 80 per cent of avalanches happen in B.C. and people are getting the message.

“This is the 10th anniversary of the adventure smart program, which is search and rescue prevention,” Riches told Global News.

“And we can see a lot of people are coming up with a lot more gear, they’re more prepared, they have their pack on, they’re emergency safety whistle.”

~ with files from Jennifer Palma

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