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NSR urges caution in the backcountry amid increased avalanche risk

Last Updated Jan 11, 2018 at 3:56 pm PST

Summary

North Shore Rescue is urging people to be prepared if they plan to be in the backcountry

A skier had to be lifted out of the backcountry after breaking his leg in an avalanche on Tuesday

NORTH SHORE (NEWS 1130) – The latest avalanche warning for BC’s backcountry has local rescue workers again pleading for anyone heading outdoors to be prepared.

Mike Danks, the team leader for North Shore Rescue, admits it’s frustrating when people don’t pay attention to conditions that could have deadly consequences.

“If the conditions are such that it is not safe for our members to go in, we’re not going to be going in,” he says. “As we saw with the last rescue, the helicopter’s not always going to be able to do the rescue and that’s what happened last time.”

An avalanche near Fernie killed a skier from Calgary on Monday. Just a day later, a man had to be carried out by NSR members after he broke his leg in Tuesday’s slide in the Mount Seymour Provincial Park.

Danks says it was too foggy for a helicopter to airlift that ski skier to safety.

North Shore Rescue volunteers help an injured backcountry skier after he was caught up in an avalanche on Mount Seymour (Source: facebook.com/NorthShoreRescue)
North Shore Rescue volunteers help an injured backcountry skier after he was caught up in an avalanche on Mount Seymour (Source: facebook.com/NorthShoreRescue)

“Because of that aircraft not being able to operate because of the cloud, it took 30 of our members, as well as Seymour Patrol, BC Parks, BC Ambulance, a huge amount of resources to get one person, off the south face of First Pump.”

Danks adds people heading out should research conditions, make sure they’re physically fit and properly equipped in case of a slide.

“Anytime in the winter when we have winter conditions in the backcountry, there’s always going to be a concern,” he says. “Before anybody goes out into the uncontrolled areas, which is outside of any of our ski resorts, they need to check the avalanche bulletin at avalanche.ca.”

He says this warning doesn’t mean you should completely avoid heading into the backcountry.

“I think it really comes down to your experience level. Certainly for people that are very familiar with the backcountry and the route they are traveling on, if they know that it is safe and they are avoiding avalanche terrain, then it is absolutely fine to do that.”

But if it’s your first time going out into uncontrolled areas, Danks says there’s a possibility you can find yourself in some serious trouble.