How to be safe during avalanche season

Selkirk College hosted an evening of for residents to know about avalanche safety and awareness when up in the mountains.

Living in the mountains, some of the major winter activities include skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling.

While these activities are fun, there is a danger involved that sometimes doesn’t immediately come to mind: avalanches.

With that in mind, Selkirk College hosted an avalanche awareness meeting on Jan. 21 to help inform locals on how to spot any potential warning signs, and what to do if you’re ever caught in an avalanche.

“Nakusp is right in the Monashee Mountains, and surrounded by big avalanche terrain,” said Jeremy Hanke, a member of the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA). “It’s a small community that utilizes the back woods quite a bit. They’re already very cautious and aware of the avalanche problem.”

One thing Hanke stressed the importance of was making a plan before heading out, either on your own, or with a group of people.

Know the weather and avalanche forecast, look at the terrain selection, find out what the weather was like in the area a few days before hand, and always have a plan B.

Information on what kind of gear to carry was also provided. Avalanche probes are a necessity, and the longer and thicker they are, the better. It should be three metres long at the very least.Shovels are also an important piece of equipment as well. It should have a strong blade, handle, and neck. Having a hatchet feature is good to have on one, as well as having extras in the handle, just not a pole.

Those who attended were happy Hanke was able to provide some very useful information.

“It’s not the first time we’ve done this course,” said Mark Aeichele, vice president of the Arrow Lakes Ridge Riders. “It’s a good one, just to make sure people come out here and gain some knowledge from it, and be safe in the back country.”

Chris Prediger, president of the Ridge Riders agrees.

Prediger was involved in an avalanche about ten years ago.

“I was climbing the hill, and the snow started to ripple. I tried to turn out, and it just ran right over top of me.”

He was buried pretty shallow, and his friends were near, so he was able to get out right away, but he stresses the fact that people need to be aware of themselves and their surroundings when out on the mountains.

“Anybody that uses the back country should be aware of the dangers,” he said. “We ride fairly aggressive, and like he said, you should know your different aspects and different slopes, and how to read the ground as to the avalanche severity where you’re riding.”

 

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