With the return of winter and snow to the mountains of Vancouver Island, it’s time again for backcountry travellers to start thinking about avalanche safety.
The best backcountry skiing and snowmobiling is often found in avalanche terrain, so having solid route finding and terrain assessment skills, proper self-rescue equipment (beacon, probe and shovel) and current snowpack information is key for staying safe in the mountains.
For the past seven years, the non-profit Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre Society and its team of professional avalanche forecasters has been delivering three-times weekly public avalanche bulletins throughout the winter season.
The bulletins are available online at www.islandavalanchebulletin.com, where backcountry enthusiasts can also find information about how to share their own snowpack and weather observations with the forecasters, and learn of other ways to support the society.
The society serves an important public safety role and is devoted to building relationships with the various winter backcountry user groups, from skiers and snowboarders to snowshoers and snowmobilers.
This season the society is making a more concerted effort to strengthen relationships with the snowmobile community and this fall gave well received presentations to both the North Island Snowmobile Club and the Mid-Island Snowblazers.
The society is run by a volunteer board of directors who all share a passion for backcountry winter recreation. The avalanche bulletin service is free to the public however the society depends on grassroots fundraising to cover the costs of avalanche forecasting, web hosting and other modest administration costs.
The bulk of this fundraising occurs at two popular annual events.
The first is the Party for the Bulletin being held this year Jan 28, 2016 at the Riding Fool Hostel in Cumberland. The second event is the two-day Backcountry Festival at Mount Cain Feb.11-12.
For more, visit the Facebook site (www.facebook.com/VIAvalanche.)