Backcountry users urged to be cautious this weekend

“The slow start to the winter, with cold temperatures and low snowfall, gave us a weak snowpack."

Avalanche Canada is issuing a special public avalanche warning for the mountains of BC’s interior, including the North Rockies, Cariboos, North Columbia, South Columbia, Purcells, Kootenay Boundary, South Rockies, and Lizard Range and Flathead.

This warning applies to recreational backcountry users and is in effect from Friday, November 28 to Monday, December 1.

Heavy snow, strong winds and warm temperatures this week have resulted in high avalanche danger ratings across the regions. But the main concern is the coming weekend, when the weather clears and the temperatures drop. The danger ratings will go down as natural avalanche activity decreases but the potential for large and destructive human-triggered avalanches remains.

“The slow start to the winter, with cold temperatures and low snowfall, gave us a weak snowpack,” explains Avalanche Canada Public Avalanche Forecaster Joe Lammers. “Now we’ve finally had a good storm and people are ready to ride. But all that new snow fell on a relatively fragile structure. This weekend there’s going to be pent-up demand for powder snow. It will be essential to take things slow and exercise cautious decision making.”

Recreational backcountry users are recommended to stick to simple, low-angle terrain, avoid big, steep slopes, minimize exposure to overhead hazard, and re-group in safe zones away from avalanche run-outs. If you do not have the training or experience to assess avalanche terrain, stay in areas where avalanche risk is professionally managed.

All backcountry users must be equipped with essential avalanche safety equipment. Everyone in the party needs an avalanche transceiver, a probe and a shovel every day. It’s equally important that everyone has avalanche training and has practiced using this equipment. If an avalanche occurs, the rescue is up to you. There is no time to go for help. Wearing an avalanche balloon pack can reduce the chances of burial.

For the avalanche forecast, check www.avalanche.ca. For further thoughts on the current conditions, please read our Forecaster Blog at www.avalanche.ca/blogs.

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