Avalanche risk high in mountains

After four avalanche fatalities nationally in six days, the Canadian Avalanche Centre urges backcountry users to exercise caution in avalanche terrain.

Two fatal snowmobile accidents occurred in cutblocks — areas below treeline cleared by logging companies.

While riding below treelines is often a safer choice, riders need to be wary of avalanche terrain, even near valley bottoms, due to warm temperatures and wet snow at low elevations, the CAC says.

The Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre's danger ratings were high (natural and human triggered avalanches likely) for alpine and treeline on the weekend. Below treeline was considerable (natural avalanches possible; human-triggered avalanches probable).

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

Critical equipment for avalanche terrain includes transceivers, probes and shovels. Airbags are also recommended.

The critical window for finding and extricating a victim is just 10 minutes, when there is an 80-per-cent chance of survival. At 35 minutes, the chance of survival is less than 10 per cent.


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