Every winter more and more adventurers head up to play in Canada's beautiful, snowy mountains. Remember that out there avalanche terrain is everywhere and nothing is guaranteed. In fact 90% of recreational avalanche accidents are triggered by the people involved. Are you avalanche aware?
Essential winter survival skills for outdoor enthusiasts include the abilities to recognize and avoid avalanche terrain and effectively rescue a group member buried by an avalanche.
Prepare yourself by taking an Avalanche Skills Training Course (AST) with your friends. The site avalanche.ca provides a comprehensive range of valuable avalanche information, including a contact list of instructors-for-hire in your area who offer a two-day AST Level 1 course.
Want to learn about avalanche safety before your AST course starts up? Check out the CAC Online Avalanche Course. This free online course won't replace AST program field avalanche training, but it will teach you some basic avalanche first response skills in the meantime! Take the course and tell us what you think.
Want your kids to learn the basics of avalanche safety? Encourage your school to offer avalanche safety through the Snow Safety Education Program. Designed for school children in grades 4-6, the SSEP teaches the essentials of winter outdoor safety – in bounds and in the backcountry.
Before you go
Plan your trip and take into account current conditions. Who knows where you have gone? How will you get home safely if the weather changes? Get the avalanche bulletin and weather forecast. If there is no avalanche bulletin available for your area, check out the avalanche safety discussion board at avalanche.ca/forums.
While you're out there ...
Carry and practice with essential gear—an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel. Consider carrying the recommended gear—airbags, a helmet, RECCO and releasable bindings, and avoid the obsolete and "not recommended" equipment.Be aware ...
Watch for signs of avalanche terrain en route to your destination. If you see small avalanches on small slopes, chances are the same conditions exist on larger slopes. You don't have to head home; instead, simply head to a safer area. Sound judgment and knowing when to save it for another day are key survival skills.
Photo: Canadian Tourism
BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure/Doug Wilson