Avalanche Canada has issued a special public avalanche warning last week that covers much of southeastern part of the Kootenay region.
The warning was issue on Thursday, February 9th and applies a large swath of roughly triangle-shaped territory running from west of Nelson to just south of Canal Flats and on and diagonally up, in eastward direction, from there to the Alberta border, stretching to encompass Kanaskis country and Waterton Lakes National Park and the mountainous areas between those two spots on the other side of the provincial border.
The massive snowstorm that had slammed the Kootenay region earlier that week (with snow falling from Friday, February 3rd through to Monday, February 6th) had, according to the warning doubled the depth of the snowpack in many places, created dense slabs lying on top of a weak base of sugary. facetted snow.
Clearing skies and good riding conditions after a long drought are expected to entice people into the mountains, Avalanche Canada forecasting program supervisor James Floyer said in a press release, adding that while natural avalanches were tapering off, he remained human triggering of large avalanches.
As the Pioneer went to press on Wednesday, February 15th Avalanche Canada had updated danger ratings that remained ominous for the Upper Columbia Valley and surrounding areas, with the organization giving a ‘considerable’ avalanche danger rating for Invermere area in the alpine, at treeline and even below treeline for both Wednesday, February 15th and Thursday, February 16th. The warnings for the Banff-Kootenay-Yoho National Park area are similar, with a ‘considerable’ avalanche danger rating in the alpine, at treeline and below treeline for Wednesday, February 15th and then a ‘considerable’ rating in the alpine and at treeline, and a ‘moderate’ avalanche rating below treeline for Thursday, February 16th.
Avalanche Canada and Parks Canada emphasized in the warning that recreational backcountry users with little or no avalanche training or experience should avoid avalanche terrain, or stick to areas such as ski resorts or guided backcountry lodges, where avalanche risk is managed by professionals. Experienced backcountry recreationists were urged to travel on simple terrain such as small, low angle, well-supported features with no large steep slopes or cornices above. The organization also reminded backcountry users that everybody in a backcountry party needs to have an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel, and that a two-day Avalanche Skills Training One course is the minimum training recommended for travelling in avalanche terrain.
For updates on current avalanche observations or near misses visit the Avlanche Canada and Parks Mountian Safety Facebook pages as well as www.avalanche.ca/blogs/notableavalanches2017janfeb.
The exact area coverd by the special warning can be viewed at https://api.mapbox.com/styles/v1/avalanchecanada/ciy4r3jhm001f2rn4nyg6gluw.html?fresh=true&title=true&access_token=pk.eyJ1IjoiYXZhbGFuY2hlY2FuYWRhIiwiYSI6Im52VjFlWW8ifQ.-jbec6Q_pA7uRgvVDkXxsA#6.98/49.902/-114.817