By many measures, snow sports industry analysts and business people agree that human powered pursuits have been the fastest growing segment of the snow sports industry for a number of years now.
Anecdotally at least we can say that this is true here on Vancouver Island. One need only stand at the chairlift line up at Mount Washington doing a count of the number of people skiing on backcountry equipment or look at the hundreds of people signing up for avalanche education each winter (see related story on Page 39) to guess that this is the trend here on the Island as well.
So where are all these people going? Well the backcountry of course is the answer and it raises some interesting issues. We all know that the backcountry poses risks that patrolled and managed ski areas do not. We can all easily imagine an increased need for rescue services and the like as backcountry user numbers grow.
In addition to a reactive response to increasing numbers in the backcountry (rescue capability) it behooves us to also use a proactive approach. This typically comes in the form of education. Avalanche Canada has done a tremendous job in spreading the gospel of avalanche education through it’s Avalanche Skills
Training program. Delivered by local providers across the country, this program has arguably become the most successful recreational avalanche education program in the world and it’s success can easily be seen with the numbers taking courses here on Vancouver Island.
When students leave an avalanche course they do so armed with a number of tools to manage their risk in the backcountry. A big portion of what they have learned is to focus on pre trip planning. This planning process relies heavily on an avalanche bulletin.
Enter the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin. Eight years back now, Island based guides, avalanche forecasters and avalanche educators Cliff Umpleby and Jan Neuspiel saw a need for an avalanche bulletin on Vancouver Island that was not being filled. So they started a homegrown avalanche bulletin. This grassroots effort is supported entirely by island based businesses and users and is a unique model for a locally-supported avalanche warning product.
The bulletin is supported primarily by two annual fund raising events: The Party for the Bulletin and the Backcountry Festival. The party for the bulletin is coming up on Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Riding Fool Hostel in Cumberland. Live music, beer from Cumberland Brewing and an amazing silent auction including a lot of fine backcountry gear are all features of this event. Ten-dollar tickets are available at Tarbell’s Deli in Cumberland, Ski Tak Hut in Courtenay and on line at Eventbrite (search for the 8th Annual Party for the Bulletin). Doors open at 8 p.m. The event always sells out so getting tickets soon is advised.
View the bulletin at: http://islandavalanchebulletin.com/
Party Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/vancouver-island-avalanche-centre-8th-annual-party-for-thebulletin-tickets-19068083150