BOW VALLEY – A special avalanche warning has been issued for backcountry and front-country recreational users that will remain in effect until Sunday (Dec. 27).
The warning was issued by Avalanche Canada Wednesday morning (Dec. 23) and applies to mountain regions in Alberta and B.C. including the Rocky Mountains in the Bow Valley, Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park.
According to a press release, the snowpack in these areas includes a weak layer 60-100 centimetres below the surface and recent storms has created brought the snowpack to a "tipping point" where large avalanches can be easily triggered.
“With indoor gatherings restricted by the pandemic, we recognize many of us will want to spend time outdoors in our beautiful backcountry over the holidays,” said James Floyer, forecast program supervisor for Avalanche Canada, in a press release.
“People must be aware that even though the weather has settled, dangerous avalanche conditions remain throughout much of western Canada. There is a serious potential for large, human-triggered avalanches at this time.”
The warning was also issued by Parks Canada and Kananskis Country, whose public safety specialists are tasked with responding to avalanche incidents that involve recreational users.
Officials ask that anyone recreating in avalanche terrain, including those going outside ski area boundaries, make conservative choices, stick to low-angle or densely forested slopes. They recommend any slopes that are steep enough for an avalanche be approached with extra caution and to be on the lookout for "terrain traps" like cliffs, rocks, gullies and creek beds.
“We know sunny weather can give people a false sense of security when they venture into the backcountry,” said Floyer. “This is not the time to let your guard down. Steep open slopes will look tempting but are best left alone for now.”
The areas included in the avalanche warning are:
- South Columbia
- North Columbia
- North Rockies
- South Rockies
- Lizard Range-Flathead
- Banff National Park
- Yoho National Park
- Glacier National Park
- Waterton National Park
- Kananaskis Country
Go to avalanche.ca for up-to-date avalanche information. Avalanche Canada recommends everyone that enters the backcountry to carry essential rescue gear and know how to use it. The Parks Canada mountain safety website is also a useful resource for anyone headed into avalanche terrain.