Recent heavy snowfalls underscore the need for skiers to use extra caution if they are planning to venture into the back country in the Rocky Mountains this year.
“It’s an abnormal year,” said Jeremy Cox, Senior Public Safety Supervisor, at Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort.
He notes the recent heavy snowfalls on a thin base are “like building a brick house on a glass foundation.”
“There’s a heavy, heavy load on a weak basal layer.”
The result is an extreme avalanche hazard in areas outside of ski resorts that aren’t controlled.
Cox emphasized that anyone contemplating a trip into the backcountry, should check the daily bulletins posted by Parks Canada. Thursday’s bulletin listed avalanche risk in alpine and treeline areas as “high” and as “considerable” below treeline.
Cox added that skiers should also take courses offered through the Canadian Avalanche Centre, so they can fully understand the risks and how to prepare for trips into the spectacular backcountry.
A natural slide occurred in the WaWa Ridge area near Sunshine Village shortly after 11 a.m. Thursday. Although the avalanche was outside of Sunshine’s leasehold, Sunshine’s snow safety team followed standard procedure by reporting the avalanche to Parks Canada and then investigating to ensure no one was involved in the incident.
At Sunshine, Cox noted that he and Ricci worked late Wednesday and early Thursday morning conducting avalanche control before Sunshine opened the Standish lift Thursday. With a snow pack of just less than one metre, nearly half of Sunshine’s 108 named runs are now open to the public. Four quad lifts, two magic carpet runs and the high-speed, eight passenger gondola are all turning.
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