Backcountry travellers warned about Vancouver Island avalanche threat

The danger of travelling into the backcountry has increased, with a high to considerable avalanche rating on Vancouver Island.

RECENT HEAVY SNOWFALL has made Mount Washington a paradise for skiers and boarders

As outdoor enthusiasts enjoy fresh powder with a blast of winter this past week, the danger of travelling into backcountry has increased, with a high to considerable avalanche rating on Vancouver Island.The Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin (VIAB) rated the alpine and treeline danger ratings as high on Tuesday, and considerable for Wednesday, while below-treeline rating as considerable for the two days.VIAB noted significant quantities of new snow will be moved by strong winds from the southeast to southwest. The storm slab is unstable due to 40 cm to around a metre of new snow falling from late Monday into Wednesday.They added avalanches will be from small in size to at least large enough to bury, injure or kill a person.Rob Hanna, president of the Mid-Island Sno-Blazers, a snowmobile association with the B.C. Snowmobile Federation, said conditions on the Island are excellent, but only for those trained and prepared for the weather.”There was some really great conditions; the snow was beautiful, the weather was good, but we went out knowing the avalanche warning was high,” he noted.Hanna, along with his wife, are certified snowmobile instructors, and have taken avalanche training with the Canadian Avalanche Centre.”Safety is paramount,” he added. “With conditions like this — several days of fresh, large snowfalls — people should wait a minimum of 24, if not, 48 hours.”Hanna said if a snowmobiler or skier ventures into backcountry without proper avalanche training, “it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s like going in there blind if you don’t have any training.”He added snow conditions can be deceiving; although fresh snow may appear fluffy and light, it can present equally dangerous conditions as huge, wet snowfalls.”A block of snow the size of a fridge can weigh 1,600 pounds,” Hanna explained. “In a slap avalanche, there could be hundreds of blocks crashing up against each other. It’s like being in a traffic jam with Volkswagens coming at you.”Hanna suggested his best advice for those wanting to venture out in current conditions is to not ride alone, join a club, do not take avalanche warnings lightly  and be prepared (he suggests taking appropriate clothing, food, safety gear and snowshoes).According to VIAB, travel in avalanche terrain was not recommended Tuesday, and should only be considered by those with advanced snow stability evaluation skills and route finding skills on Wednesday. For more information on the Mid-Island Sno-Blazers, visit www.midislandsnoblazers.ca, and for up-to-date avalanche conditions, visit VIAB at www.islandavalanchebulletin.com.photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Just Posted

Three strong earthquakes reported off Vancouver Island

The quakes, all measuring more than 6.0 on the richter scale, were about 260 kilometres west of Tofino

Mother passes SD70 trustee torch to daughter in Port Alberni

Jane Jones loses after one term, but proud of her daughter Connie Watts

ELECTION 2018: Sharie Minions named Port Alberni mayor

Haggard, Solda, Washington, Poon, Paulson and Corbeil named councillors

Four incumbents re-elected to School District 70 in Port Alberni

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District board will have a new look

2018 municipal election: Few surprises on Vancouver Island

16 incumbent mayors will continue in their positions for four more years

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

B.C. oncologist changing the face of breast cancer treatment

Dr. Juanita Crook, a Kelowna oncologist, has seen 100 per cent success using brachytherapy to treat breast cancer in some patients.

Explosion at homeless camp causes brush fire on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo Fire Rescue crews haul hundreds of metres of hose down ravine

Voting set to start in B.C. proportional representation referendum

Two-part ballots now being mailed to all registered voters

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

Canada Post union announces rotating strikes in four Canadian cities

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

Most Read