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Backcountry enthusiasts warned of avalanche risks in B.C. Interior mountains

Warning in effect through end of Monday, Jan. 2
Recent storm causes significant avalanche risk for backcountry users across much of the B.C. Interior’s mountain ranges. Avalanche Canada photo.

An avalanche warning is in effect for backcountry areas across B.C.’s Interior, effective till after New Years Day.

Avalanche Canada and Parks Canada issued the Special Public Avalanche Warning on Wednesday (Dec. 28).

The warning covers most of the province’s Columbia Mountains, Glacier and Mount Revelstoke National Parks and the Northern Rockies and also extends from the southern boundaries of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy, Kokanee and Valhalla Provincial Parks and Williston Lake north of Pine Pass and Mackenize.

“The snowpack is currently in a precarious state,” said Simon Horton, senior forecaster for Avalanche Canada.

“The storm cycles that hit western Canada over the past weekend added significant snow on top of an exceptionally weak lower snowpack. This has brought the conditions to a tipping point where dangerous avalanches are likely.”

This winter began with a long cold and dry stretch, which created numerous persistent weak layers in the snowpack across B.C.’s interior mountain ranges. After the recent storm with warm weather and rain, that weak snowpack has now become destabilized.

These conditions mean large, human-triggered avalanches are likely.

“While avalanche danger ratings may start to decrease as the weather improves, there will still be a chance of triggering a large avalanche,” Horton said.

If venturing into the backcountry, Avalanche Canada advises making conservative terrain choices to minimize risk. This includes staying on lower-angled slopes and choosing smaller objectives that minimize the consequences of potential avalanches.

Up-to-date forecasts can always be found at Avalanche Canada recommends everyone in a backcountry party to bring essential gear: a transceiver, probe and shovel, plus the training to use them.

About the Author: Paul Rodgers

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