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

Retired NHL referee Rob Shick heads to BC Sports Hall of Fame

Shick got his first licks at refereeing in small Port Alberni rink

Vancouver Island wife brings husband back to life with CPR, thanks to 911 dispatcher

‘The only reason he was alive was that 10 minutes of CPR before paramedics got there’

Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni hopes to ‘raise the reds’

Lily Diotte of Swale Rock Cafe is fundraising to replace the theatre’s red curtains

Alberni’s development soccer program doubles in size

Development practice had hardly started, but there were already more than 30… Continue reading

Catalyst Paper to sell U.S. mills to Chinese company

Sale will allow company to focus on B.C. interests, says president Ned Dwyer

Trans Mountain pipeline: Is it worth the risk?

Concerns range from the threat of an oil spill to the impact of tanker traffic on wildlife

B.C. to spend $181M to create 200 general practitioner jobs

Jobs will go to new medical school graduates

Federal leaders trade barbs about India trip at press gallery dinner

Justin Trudeau’s infamous trip to India earlier this year was the focus of many of the jabs

B.C. VIEWS: Our poverty reduction plan is already in place

NDP has another promise it needs to appear to keep

WestJet pilot strike averted as parties agree to mediation

Pilots had warned they could go on strike starting May 19

Out of control wildfire prompts restriction around Allie Lake

One of the first large wildfires of the 2018 season is blazing out of control

Most Read