October 25th, 2020

Waterton among areas under avalanche warning

By Mabell, Dave on December 24, 2019.


Waterton Lakes National Park and the southern Rocky Mountains are included in a new avalanche warning issued Monday.

The weekend’s storms dropped plenty of snow on the mountain ranges, officials report, and it’s now sitting on an weak layer of older snow.

“The danger ratings are going down across the map because naturally running avalanches have slowed down or stopped,” explains Ilya Storm, forecast program supervisor for Avalanche Canada. “However, now many slopes are primed for human-triggered avalanches.

“Distinguishing between slopes that have already slid and those that are at the tipping point will be very difficult,” she says.

“This, combined with clearing weather during a holiday week, has us very concerned for backcountry users.”

That led Avalanche Canada, in partnership with Parks Canada and Alberta’s Kananaskis Country, to issue a special warning for recreational users of backcountry and front-country avalanche terrain. It extends north to Banff, Kootenay and Yoho National Parks as well as west to the Lizard Range and Flathead Valley as well as the Purcell Range west of Cranbrook.

Outdoors officials warn all backcountry users, and anyone entering avalanche terrain, including land outside ski area boundaries, to check their regional avalanche forecasts at http://www.avalanche.ca.

They warn everyone in a backcountry party needs the essential rescue gear – transceiver, probe and shovel – and the knowledge to use it. People heading to the mountains to snowshoe or explore the front country should also be aware many popular summer trails are exposed to avalanche terrain, officials point out.

It’s vital to plan ahead and research the proposed route to avoiding avalanche areas – or to hire a certified guide to lead the group.

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