Although snowpack in the backcountry locally hasn’t been quite as deep as it has in other years that doesn’t mean that there is no danger if you decide to venture out on skis or snow machines.
Along with the risk of becoming lost and requiring the assistance of groups like the Rossland Search and Rescue (SAR) there is still the possibility of becoming swept up by one of the most awe inspiring demonstrations of the raw power of nature: an avalanche.
As a means to help prepare people for the possibility of being involved in an avalanche Rossland SAR will be holding its annual Avalanche Awareness Day training session at Red Mountain Saturday.
“This is our annual event where we offer education for people who are considering going into the backcountry,” said Graham Jones, a director with Rossland SAR. “We teach people how to use the probes, how to shovel snow away rapidly using gravity to help, use a transceiver, and just generally become more familiar with the equipment.”
Although the climate conditions in our area have been relatively mild this year avalanche risk at the alpine level in Kootenay Boundary is listed as “Considerable.”
As well as helping people to familiarize themselves with equipment and perhaps the new transceiver they got for Christmas, Jones said they will be showing participants how to take snow profiles to begin determining the potential for an avalanche and build a snow shelter, which he says can make the difference between surviving in relative comfort if you are lost overnight or succumbing to hypothermia.
As part of the preparation for heading into the backcountry Jones recommends carrying a pack including a transceiver, a snow probe, a shovel, a dry change of clothing, food and water, and some kind of directional device like a compass or basic GPS.
For Saturday’s activities, however, all that is required is appropriate clothing for the weather and a willingness to learn.
The Avalanche Awareness Day activities, which will begin at 9 a.m. at Red and run until 3 p.m., is free of charge, and open to all ages.