Avalanche safety urged in backcountry

After four avalanche fatalities in the past eight days, the Canadian Avalanche Centre is urging backcountry users to make cautious and conservative decisions while in avalanche terrain.

Among the fatalities was A.J. Cleary, 34, of Coldstream, who was caught in an avalanche while snowmobiling in the Monashee Mountains near Keefer Lake.

“We’ve been dealt a pretty troublesome snowpack this season and our terrain choices need to reflect that fact,” said Karl Klassen, with CAC’s Public Avalanche Warning Service.

“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.”

Until conditions improve, the CAC recommends travelling on small, simple, low-angle terrain with no terrain traps. Exposure to large slopes and cornices above should also be avoided whenever possible.

It’s also critical that all backcountry users are equipped with essential safety equipment for avalanche terrain, says Klassen.

“Everyone in the party needs an avalanche transceiver, a probe and a shovel every day, regardless of expected conditions. And it’s equally vital that everyone is familiar with has practiced using this equipment,” he said.

“If an avalanche occurs, there is no time to go for help.”

In addition to essential equipment, airbags are vital.

For information on current conditions, go to



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