Backcountry enthusiasts encouraged to plan ahead

Photo by Paxson Woelber

With the current strain on first responders due to flooding across the province and the ongoing pandemic, Kamloops Search and Rescue (KSAR) wants to remind outdoor enthusiasts to properly prepare before heading out into the backcountry to help limit rescue calls.

Alan Hobler, KSAR manager, said being prepared for the conditions is crucial no matter where in the backcountry people are going out and what the elevation is.

“We’re into winter travel conditions anywhere in the backcountry now, so we need to consider avalanche risks when people are entering avalanche terrain,” said Hobler.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Hobler said more people are seeking backcountry experiences as a way to abide by restrictions and get away from crowds. As a result, the number of search and rescue calls have increased across the province, often due to people getting stuck, lost or being unprepared for the elements. 

Now the recent flooding is only adding more strain onto the rescue teams and their response time.

“Those in the Lower Mainland, especially those teams down there, would be taxed right now,” said Hobler. “We want the public to ensure that they’re doing their part not to create results in which we have to be called out to respond to them.”

Hobler said it’s not that KSAR is recommending people not go out into the backcountry, but that they ensure they have the knowledge and the means to keep themselves safe.

“Ensuring that they are fully prepared for the conditions they’re going out in,” said Hobler. “And prepared to either self rescue or have plans in place in case [search and rescue doesn’t] show up in time.”

Hobler said it also helps to travel in groups, so if someone is endangered they have support.

Anyone looking to plan a backcountry trip can visit to ensure they have the essentials based on the activity they hope to do. The area around Sun Peaks is part of the North Columbia avalanche forecast zone, which can be found here:

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