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Don't have proper avalanche training? Stay out of the backcountry, SAR says

Last Updated Mar 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

Don't have the training, experience, or equipment? You shouldn't be in the backcountry, SAR members say

As temperatures climb, search and rescue teams are reminding you you still need proper training to be in the backcountry

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It feels like spring and the mountains are calling, but just because the avalanche risk is low-to-moderate, that doesn’t mean you can ignore the basic safety rules.

With a busy weekend ahead, search and rescue groups are reminding people to always travel with avalanche safety gear in the backcountry — even if you think you’re going somewhere safe.

“People without the experience or the training, not having the ability to identify those risk areas, they may find themselves in very serious situations quite suddenly,” B.C. Search and Rescue’s Chris Mushumanski says.

His reminder comes after someone posted in a popular backcountry Facebook group asking for advice on their first ski trip to Elfin Lakes near Squamish.

“We have no avalanche training/experience/equipment or backcountry experience,” the post reads, asking if it was still okay to travel the well trekked route.

Meantime, Squamish Search and Rescue says its members never travel to Elfin Lakes without avalanche safety gear.

The warmer weather is increasing the risk of avalanches — especially on certain slopes.

However, identifying the risks and warning signs takes training and experience.

“It’s so easily accessible and can often give a false sense of security,” says Sandra Riches with AdventureSmart on the close proximity of the mountains to the Metro Vancouver area. “We need you to be prepared, understanding what the decisions you need to make pre-, during, and post-backcountry adventure.”

Mushumanski echos the concerns associated with it being so easy to get into the local hills.

“Call volumes have increased over the last few years,” he says. “We attribute that to a growing desire to explore the backcountry.”

He adds for anyone who has taken the training and may be looking for their first go in the backcountry, it’s best to go with someone else.

“Going with somebody who’s been there before and has taken the training, so that for your first adventures into the backcountry you’re going to come back safe and sound.”

Mushimanski suggests using Adventure Smart’s new app which lets you create a trip plan and send it to friends and family so they know where you are.