February 17, 2017 6:51 pm

Special avalanche warning issued in Jasper, Banff, Yoho, Kootenay parks

Mt. Temple, Banff National Park

Tracy Nagai/Global News/File

Albertan and British Columbian skiers and snowboarders looking to hit the slopes this Family Day long weekend should beware of an avalanche bulletin issued Friday.

Jasper, Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks issued the Special Public Avalanche Warning (SPAW) for Friday, Feb. 17 until Monday, Feb. 20.

READ MORE: Snowmobiler buried in avalanche near Valemount, BC spurs warning about when to help

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“The SPAW is to target out-of-bounds skiers and boarders interested in venturing out of the ski area boundaries and backcountry users who may not be following the avalanche danger bulletin for these regions,” reads an email from Parks Canada.

Parks Canada said the regions under the bulletin have had a “major avalanche cycle” with large avalanches running well into the run-out zones.

READ MORE: What causes avalanches?

The government agency said the natural activity is expected to taper off into the weekend, leaving tricky and dangerous conditions at treeline and above, “where large human-triggered avalanches are possible.”

Avalanche forecaster Ilya Storm has previously written about tips for people during ski and snowmobile season for Avalanche Canada:


  • If you’re in avalanche terrain and stuck, expect to dig and get yourself out—by yourself.
  • Recognize there are better or worse times—and places—to get stuck.

Group members:

  • Watch from safe spot off to the side and well back, out of harm’s way.
  • Give a rider time to sort it out by themselves: 10 minutes? 15 minutes? Longer?
  • Plan how to help a rider if required: send in only one person and keep spotters watching – they’re the potential future rescuers; consider how to approach (from below or the side, not from above, avoid steepest terrain, avoid likely trigger points, manage terrain traps, etc.)


  • Sledding is a social sport with big groups, many groups riding the same areas and the ability to cover a huge amount of terrain in a short time. People shouldn’t ride the same or closely connected slopes when someone’s stuck, regardless of whether they’re part of your group or not.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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