As snowmobiles get more powerful and riders more skilled, the opportunities for exploring the backcountry grow. But before you head out in to the snow, you need to be aware of the possibility of avalanches.
Almost 90% of all avalanche accidents are caused by the people involved. That means avalanches rarely come roaring down from above with no apparent reason. You, or someone in your group, can trigger a slide just by being on a slope at the wrong time. That’s why it is so important to be able to recognize avalanche terrain and realize when you and your friends are taking a risk. Avalanches can happen anywhere there is enough snow and enough incline. It doesn’t take much. 30cm of snow on a 25º slope can do it.
Over the course of the winter, the snowpack and the avalanche conditions are always changing. There are times to go out and explore and there are times to limit your travel to mellow terrain !
As snowmobilers we must open our eyes to the reality and dangers of the terrain we choose to recreate in. Day in and day out we see or hear of our fellow snowmobilers making incorrect and uneducated decisions about the terrain they have chosen to ride in. No matter how big and powerful our snowmobile is, it will not save us from the extreme dangers of an avalanche.
Please do your part:
- Take an Avalanche Course.
- Carry and know how to use the proper rescue equipment.
- Gain knowledge of the area you choose to ride in, this includes:
- Weather, Snowpack, Recent avalanche activity, Safe areas etc.
- Choose terrain that coincides with the days conditions
- Use safe and effective procedures for backcountry travel
For information, please visit Avalanche Canada or contact our local AST provider Sean Fraser of Hyland Backcountry Safety. Check current weather conditions and view live cams from Hudson Bay Mountain.
Five Safety Messages for Snowmobilers
GET THE GEAR: Ensure everyone in your group has an avalanche
transceiver, shovel, and probe on their person and knows how to use them.
GET THE TRAINING: Take an Avalanche Skills Training course
GET THE FORECAST: Make a riding plan based on the current avalanche and
weather forecast . The higher the avalanche danger rating, the simpler the terrain should be.
GET THE PICTURE: If you see recent avalanche activity, unstable snow
exists. Riding on or underneath steep slopes is dangerous, so pay attention
to the snow conditions and terrain above you as you travel.
GET OUT OF HARM'S WAY: Don't go into an unsafe area to help your stuck
friend. Only expose one person at a time on all avalanche slopes. Don’t
group up in runout zones or terrain traps.
Before you head out in the hills check the Avalanche Canada Bulletin for our region.
For anyone who hasn't seen this, the Throttle Decisions video is very sobering and informative, a must see!