REVELSTOKE, B.C. – For the first time recreational backcountry users in the northern Rockies have an avalanche forecast.

Avalanche Canada (AvCan) is now providing a regular forecast to this very popular winter backcountry destination.

The North Rockies region encompasses the Rocky Mountains from Highway 16 in the south to Hudson’s Hope in the north, spanning the BC–Alberta border. It is a very popular destination for snowmobilers, and also sees some backcountry skiing. 

There have been several notable avalanche incidents in this area, including the 2016 Renshaw tragedy, when five snowmobilers died in a snow slide. Over the past five winters, nine people have died in avalanches in the northern Rockies region—16% of all avalanche fatalities in Canada during that time.

AvCan has a three-person field team working in the region. This team, which is modelled after the successful South Rockies field team, will collect snowpack information for the forecasters in Revelstoke. This will enable published forecasts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this winter.

“We are very pleased to be able to issue forecasts three times a week for the North Rockies,” said James Floyer, a forecast program supervisor with AvCan. “Producing forecasts for this region has long been a priority for us and thanks to a recent increase in federal funding, we are now able to make this happen.”

“Our field teams play a key role for forecasting in data-sparse regions like the North Rockies,” said Floyer. “In addition to collecting snowpack data, they are able to make valuable connections with backcountry recreationists while working in the field and showcase safe backcountry travel habits through social media.”