Avalanche danger high after record snowfall

Powell River Search and Rescue advises caution for backcountry exploring

With recent storms adding considerable depth to the snowpack in local mountains, backcountry enthusiasts are being warned about an increase in avalanche danger.

According to the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin, avalanche danger conditions at the treeline and into the alpine are considerable to high.

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The latest bulletin stated that the backcountry is very dangerous in alpine and treeline areas where snow fell instead of rain. Humans are much more likely to trigger avalanches in these conditions and they could be large in many areas above 1,500 metres.

Powell River Regional District manager of emergency services Ryan Thoms said it is tough finding information that refers to Powell River directly.

“There’s information out there, but sometimes it’s hard to find it exactly about Powell River,” said Thoms. “Powell River is not quite Sea to Sky, nor is it Vancouver Island.”

Powell River Search and Rescue president Laurence Edwards said recent weather has made conditions more unpredictable in the area’s backcountry.

“The good thing about Powell River is that we don’t have too many really bad avalanche areas where people actually go,” said Edwards.

He added there are members of his group who are trained to perform avalanche rescues, and search and rescue has an alpine rescues sub-group.

In general, backcountry hiking trails are at low enough altitudes that avalanches would not pose a threat, but anyone going backcountry skiing at the treeline or higher is being advised to take precautions, said Edwards.

“There is always the possibility for slides, so people should always be careful and go properly equipped,” he added.

Thoms said he encourages people to go out into Powell River’s backcountry, but to always take caution along.

“Go out and enjoy it; it’s one of the great things about living here,” said Thoms. “One of the biggest things is to not go alone and always let someone know where you’re going.”

Edwards agreed those venturing out should always let someone else know the details of the trip with an approximate return time. He added that people should pack proper clothing for the conditions with extra food and pay attention to the terrain.

Copyright © 2017 Powell River Peak


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