Season-ender events like the S-Games at Revelstoke Mountain Resort on April 16 are timed to happen just before the snow melts

Season-ender events like the S-Games at Revelstoke Mountain Resort on April 16 are timed to happen just before the snow melts

Avalanche Centre warns of ongoing spring avalanche risk

Forecast season extended; recreational backcountry users urged to keep avalanche safety in mind for the Easter weekend

The Revelstoke-based Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is warning that deep snowpack and cool weather means those venturing into the backcountry this Easter weekend need to keep the risk of avalanches in mind. The centre usually shuts down their avalanche forecasting service at the end of this week, but they’ve extended operations for another “few” weeks because of the prolonged snow season.

Here’s the CAC’s April 20 media release:

REVELSTOKE – April 20, 2011, Although the calendar may say it is spring, most mountainous areas of western Canada remain cold and snowbound. And as the Easter long weekend approaches, the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) wants backcountry users to keep avalanche safety in mind.

Winter’s hold has prompted the CAC to extend its forecasting season. “In a normal year we shut down the forecast office at the end of this week,” explains Karl Klassen, Manager of the CAC’s Public Avalanche Safety Service. “But the way this season is going means our services will be needed for a few weeks yet.”

While skiers and snowmobilers are enjoying the extended season, they should continue to plan trips and manage risks as if it were winter. The CAC also wants to send a message to other backcountry users who may not be as familiar with avalanche hazard. “Where valley bottom trails are clear of snow, hikers, dirt-bikers, and people on quads will be planning outings as well,” says Klassen. “These activities may still be exposed to avalanche hazard from the slopes above. We want everyone, no matter what their mode of travel, to be aware of the possibility of avalanches this spring. Pay attention to the slopes above you and don’t linger in any area exposed to avalanches.”

Every member of a backcountry party needs to be equipped with a shovel, probe and transceiver. The CAC strongly recommends that all backcountry users take an avalanche awareness course. Snowpack stability changes constantly throughout the winter; backcountry users need to check the avalanche bulletin regularly to keep informed of conditions in their area. Avalanche bulletins are can be found at www.avalanche.ca.