Be prepared for avalanche conditions on North Shore mountains, local search and rescue documentary warns
VANCOUVER -- While COVID-19 travel restrictions have forced British Columbians to stay put, it’s not stopping some people from getting outside in their own region.
Of course, there are many options for B.C. residents to enjoy the outdoors and still stay close to home, but the winter activities come with a warning from volunteer search and rescue organizations.
Anyone heading into the backcountry or anywhere where winter conditions are affecting the terrain, should know how to keep themselves safe.
“That’s really what our motivation is to bring someone back to their loved ones,” said Mike Danks, North Shore Rescue team leader.
But before outdoor enthusiasts put themselves in a position where they might need to be rescued, there are some basic backcountry skills to keep in mind.
“You need to make sure you have all of your avalanche safety equipment with you at all times and that's a transceiver, probe and shovel at the very minimum,” Danks said.
"You need to have the training to know how to use that equipment as well. Another piece that goes with that is to have mountain sense, knowing how to travel through terrain and avoid avalanche terrain."
North Shore Rescue is currently being featured in a five-part docuseries titled, “Search and Rescue: North Shore.” It gives viewers behind the scenes access to every call search and rescue volunteers attended for one full year. The final episode, which is set to air on the Knowledge Network next week, offers very timely advice, since it focuses on winter rescues and avalanche safety.
"Certainly the backcountry mountain environment is a very different deal in the winter versus the summer," said Josh Smith, public avalanche forecaster for Avalanche Canada. “It's an amazing privilege to live in a place like (Vancouver) but it also comes with responsibility."
Right now, according to Avalanche Canada, anywhere from the treeline and above, the avalanche risk is considerable in the South Coast and Sea to Sky regions.
As warm air and sunshine stick around through the weekend, expect more natural avalanches to occur and the longer the heat stays, the deeper it drives into the snowpack, potentially initiating larger avalanches.
The latest information on current avalanche conditions and details on how to sign up for an avalanche safety course is available online.