is improving, and more backcountry users are carrying essential avalanche safety equipment—transceivers, shovels and probes.
As well, recommended equipment such as avalanche balloon packs are becoming increasingly popular.
However, many still have not taken enough training to use that equipment to its greatest effectiveness. A person buried in an avalanche can suffocate in minutes – long before expert help can arrive – so the ability to perform quick and effective rescues is vital.
Information about training courses is provided through the CAC. New this year is the one-day Companion Rescue course, which focuses on the skills needed to respond to an avalanche incident. For more information, see the CAC website at www.avalanche.ca, where you will find a basic online course, as well as information on introductory and advanced Avalanche Skills Training courses. This training is essential for anyone planning to venture into the backcountry in winter.
During the 2010-11 winter season, a total of nine people died when they were caught up in backcountry avalanches – and virtually all of those deaths were preventable.
The coroners’ investigations have shown that two-thirds of the deaths occurred amongst persons who were snowmobiling at the time. The others were back-country skiing. Eight of the nine deaths were of males. The average age of those who died was 44 years. None were children or teenagers. Only two of the nine resided in B.C.; the others were visiting from the prairie provinces.
For more information about this article contact:
Barb McLintock , Coroner, Strategic Programs, B.C. Coroners Service Phone: 250-356-9253 or 250-213-5020
As a take away to this article, it is clear that avalanche incidents are preventable and that in the event of an avalanche, it is the personal training of individuals and being prepared with the proper safety/rescue equipment that can make the difference between survival and death. All riders, experienced or otherwise, must be properly trained and equipped if they venture into the mountain regions on a snowmobile. Information on avalanche safety training (AST) courses is available through the Canadian Avalanche Centre, visit www.avalanche.ca or contact your local snowmobile club for details.