Special avalanche warning for much of Western Canada

A series of gusty storms over the last week has brought the snowpack in Western Canada to the tipping point, Avalanche Canada reported.

Avalanche Canada warns of high avalanche risk in Western Canada over the holidays. Photo by: Avalanche Canada

A special avalanche warning was issued this morning, in effect immediately until Dec. 27., by Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada, and Kananaskis Country.

Heavy snow on top of a critical weak layer down 60-100 cm has created conditions where large avalanches can be easily triggered by people on skis, snowshoes, or snowmobiles, said Avalanche Canada.

Avalanche forecaster, James Floyer, recognizes that more people are spending time in the backcountry over the holidays with indoor gatherings restricted by the pandemic. But he asks the public to be extra careful at this time.

For more information about mountain safety visit Parks Canada’s website, and to learn more about mitigating avalanche risk check out Avanache Canada’s tutorial ‘Avy Savy.’

“People must be aware that even though the weather has settled, dangerous avalanche conditions remain throughout much of western Canada. We know sunny weather can give people a false sense of security when they venture into the backcountry,” Floyer said.

“This is not the time to let your guard down. Steep open slopes will look tempting but are best left alone for now,” the avalanche forecaster said.

Avalanche Canada also warns slack-country users and snowshoers using popular summer trails.

Stick to low-angle or densely forested slopes, approach any steep slope with extra caution, and be on the lookout for terrain traps like cliffs, rocks, gullies, and creek beds, which can make even a small avalanche dangerous, Avalanche Canada said.

Backcountry users should always check their regional avalanche forecasts at www.avalanche.ca.

Everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear—transceiver, probe, and shovel—and the knowledge of how to use it. Check out local avalanche training courses here. 

Sofie Hagland is the multimedia community journalist for Revelstoke Mountaineer. When Sofie is not skinning up a mountain or climbing up a rock, she is probably behind a camera looking for her next story. Do you have tips on Revelstoke news, outdoor life, or what's happening in the community? Contact Sofie at sofie@revelstokemountaineer.com or call/text 672-999-3616.