Get Prepared for an Avalanche in British Columbia
British Columbia’s great outdoors has much to offer during the winter months, but that beauty can have a dark side. If you plan on exploring in and around the mountains, make sure you have the necessary skills and training.
Your safety starts with Avalanche Canada’s four steps to avalanche preparedness:
- Take a training course and practice using your gear.
- Each person travelling in your group needs their own transceiver, shovel and probe.
- Take an avalanche skills training (AST) course. All that gear is useless unless you know how to use it.
- Avalanche Canada has a basic avalanche awareness course online.
- Advanced, on-snow courses are also available for those seeking in-depth avalanche skills training.
- When planning a trip it’s important to start monitoring conditions well before you leave. Be sure to check Avalanche Canada’s Forecast Bulletin for advisories and special information.
- Tip: If you are going to a national park within B.C., visit Parks Canada’s Avalanche Bulletin and Warning Centre.
- Obtain your pre-trip weather information as far as one week before you head out and monitor it closely.
4-7 days prior to departure
3 days prior to departure
24 hours prior to departure
- Call the weather experts with Environment Canada’s Pacific Storm Prediction Centre at 1-900-565-555 or 1-888-292-2222.
- For a small fee, you can consult directly with a meteorologist. Explain where you’re going and at what elevations you’ll be traveling. If the forecast is stormy, think about alternate plans, postponing or cancelling altogether.
- Check for Special Weather Statements.
- These are the least urgent alerts issued by Environment Canada and are intended to advise of unusual, inconvenient or potentially hazardous conditions over the longer term (beyond 24 hours).
- Check for Weather Warnings.
- These are urgent advisories that severe weather is either occurring or will occur. Even if there are no warnings, it’s a good idea to call the Pacific Storm Prediction Centre again to reiterate the specifics of your trip and amend your plans if necessary.
4. Trip Plan
- Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
- AdventureSmart has an online trip planning tool that, once filled out, will email the details of your trip including travel route and expected return time to a loved one. This vital information will help authorities search for you in the event of an emergency.