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Caution warned with increased avalanche hazard in Golden Ears

Avalanche danger high in many parts of B.C., government warns
Golden Ears Mountains (Special to The News)

Anyone going into the backcountry, including in the alpine in Golden Ears Provincial Park, needs to be aware of the high danger of avalanches this season.

The province is warning the public to be prepared and extremely cautious in the backcountry, with continued high and considerable avalanche risk forecast in many areas of B.C.

Rick Laing of the Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue team recommended people visit before going into the backcountry. When they do, they will see the threat level is moderate in Golden Ears Provincial Park, which means there is heightened avalanche conditions on specific terrain features. Other areas of the province carry a greater risk. There is also basic avalanche awareness information there.

“It’s a warning worth heeding – make sure you have all the necessary equipment, and be cautious out there,” he said.

Avalanche Canada advises people to stay away from steep slopes, and says equipment needed in the backcountry at this time includes a transceiver, probe and shovel.

There have been avalanche fatalities already this winter.

READ ALSO: 1 snowmobiler dead in avalanche near Valemount, B.C.

“Being caught in an avalanche is a life-threatening situation that has already claimed five lives in British Columbia this year,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “Avalanche Canada continues to forecast dangerous snowpack and we’re urging everyone to exercise heightened levels of caution and vigilance in the backcountry this season. This year’s snowpack is being compared to 2003, which was one of the worst years for avalanche fatalities. Please check the avalanche forecast and follow any guidance from Avalanche Canada to stay safe.”

Avalanche Canada continues to monitor a deep, persistent slab avalanche problem for many regions. This is causing dangerous and highly unpredictable avalanche conditions.

“This is a highly unusual and unpredictable snowpack. The complication with this snowpack setup is that the layers are deep enough that we are less likely to see clues of instability, like nearby avalanche activity, ‘whumpfing’ or cracking snow,” said Ryan Buhler, forecast supervisor, Avalanche Canada.

“However, despite the lack of obvious clues, there is serious potential for large, human-triggered avalanches. We urge backcountry users to exercise caution and make conservative, low-consequence choices if they decide to travel in avalanche terrain.”

Advice from Avalanche Canada:

• Avoid steep, shallow and rocky terrain features.

• Adopt a cautious mindset when in avalanche terrain.

• Be diligent about terrain choices. Sticking to slope angles of less than 30 degrees when in clearings, open trees and alpine terrain can help minimize risk.

• Follow disciplined group decision-making, ensuring that each group member is engaged in terrain selection.

• Minimize exposure to overhead hazards, given that these avalanches can be remotely triggered and travel far in runout zones.

• Travel one at a time when exposed to avalanche terrain and regroup in safe spots well away from overhead hazards.

READ ALSO: Avalanche risk high around Revelstoke due to unpredictable snowpack

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

Neil Corbett has been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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