If you are headed into the backcountry this weekend you may want to change your plans.
Avalanche Canada and Parks Canada have issued a Special Public Avalanche Warning for recreational backcountry users.
The warning will be in place until Monday Jan. 15. It includes the Lizard Range & Flathead, South Rockies, Purcells, Kootenay Boundary, South & North Columbia, Glacier National Park and the Cariboo. Sun Peaks is within the boundaries of the warning.
According to a release from Avalanche Canada the snowpack in the affected areas has many weak layers buried from 40 cm to over one metre deep. Weight from new snow has brought the snowpack to a critical point and it’s very easy for skiers or snowmobilers to trigger large avalanches.
A number of close calls and one fatal accident in the last seven to ten days have taken place in terrain usually considered safe with low-angle slopes, treed areas and heavily tracked slopes.
“These decisions require expert-level decision making skills and we recommend backcountry users avoid avalanche terrain,” said James Floyer, forecasting program supervisor for Avalanche Canada. “The signs indicating you are exposed to avalanche terrain can be very subtle. If you don’t have the training to recognize them, please avoid the backcountry or hire a professional guide.”