'The snow pack is pretty complicated': Avalanche warnings issued for North Shore mountains
Published Saturday, December 19, 2020 1:39PM PST Last Updated Wednesday, December 23, 2020 9:50AM PST
VANCOUVER -- Avalanche Canada forecasted a high danger rating for the South Coast of B.C. Friday night and into Saturday, and the risk is expected to increase again on Monday.
The risk has prompted reminders from North Shore Rescue about the dangers of backcountry skiing and snowshoeing.
“People should be taking precautions right now,” said Doug Pope, search manager with North Shore Rescue. “The snow pack is pretty complicated.”
“If you are going to be going into the backcountry you need to be equipped with your avalanche safety gear: shovel, probe, beacon and have the knowledge to choose very conservative terrain for this weekend,” he added.
To help people better understand the complex snow pack on the North Shore mountains, North Shore Rescue has started to post explainer videos on its Facebook page.
The videos include avalanche safety officer AJ Maheu explaining the conditions of the snow and how it could be dangerous for skiers and snowshoers.
Pope said rainfall on Friday night has reduced the avalanche risk slightly, but brought with it another problem: icy and frozen terrain.
“We get a lot more calls about injuries due to slips on steep snowy terrain than we do about people buried under avalanches," he said
He warns if people are caught in the dangerous conditions in the back country, a response by rescuers may not be possible, especially during the shortest days of the year.
“We’re here to serve the community,” he said. “We’ve got to be there for people in trouble, but we have to watch out for our own safety and team member safety first.”
Pope explained North Shore Rescue will listen to professional avalanche forecasters who asses the safety of a specific search area before any members can be deployed.
Avalanche Canada is forecasting the avalanche danger rating on the South Coast to improve later in the day Saturday but return to “high” again on Monday.