“The big thing is just back off the alpine features and really don’t trust the big, steep bowls this weekend,” says public avalanche forecaster with Avalanche Canada Grant Helgeson.
He says conditions this weekend are similar to last, which resulted in three major avalanches – one of which was fatal.
“There’s an inherently weak snow pack in the North Rockies this year, but the surface cross and lack of snow for the past few weeks has allowed folks to kind of travel anywhere – it’s great travel and traction conditions,” Helgeson goes on to explain. “I think it’s allowing folks to push out into some of the bigger terrain that maybe we normally wouldn’t get to if it wasn’t more typical, deep snow pack.”
Helgeson says the recent avalanches were triggered by snowmobilers, but this warning goes to any backcountry user – from skiers to hikers.
“Essentially you got a piece of plywood sitting on champagne glasses,” Helgeson illustrates of the current condition. “So while that might carry you for a little bit, as soon as you knock the legs off of one of those champagne glasses, the whole thing comes apart – and essentially that’s what the snow pack structure looks like in the North Rockies right now.”
Helgeson recommends backcountry users always have a three antenna digital avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe and airbag.
“Just having them in your pack is not enough, you got to get out and practice with those things, and if you haven’t taken an avalanche safety course, come by avalanche.ca, and look at the list of providers, and get the education so you can make good decision out in the backcountry.”