Dual concern after deadly avalanche near McBride

By Jessica Lepp
February 3, 2016 - 4:38pm Updated: February 3, 2016 - 5:50pm

KAMLOOPS — After last weeks deadly avalanche that claimed the lives of five men near McBride, the B.C. Coroners Service and Avalanche Canada are issuing a joint statement on the need to 'know before you go'.

Last Friday over a dozen snowmobilers were riding in the Mounta Renshaw Recreational site when an avalanche was triggered, killing five.

Experts say what's more important that knowing how to respond in the event of an avalanche is knowing how to prevent a slide from occurring in the first place.

“Prevention is key,” says Karl Klassen, a forecaster with Avalanche Canada.

“You need training, experience and information. You need to know how to mitigate those risks and not expose an entire group to the slope at once,” says Klassen.

Klassen says anyone venturing into the backcountry should have the basic skills to recognize avalanche terrain and avoid exposing others to overhead hazard.

He says being equipped with the right gear isn't enough and adds the snowmobilers killed last Friday had all the right survival gear but because they were in a gully where the avalanche debris was constricted, it wasn't enough to save their lives.

Klassen says, “clearly having that many people on the slopes at once greatly increases the consequences if an avalanche does occur. It's an area when a known weak layer existed in the snow pack. These are all things your planning process should take into account before you enter into the backcountry and before hitting a slope that large and in those conditions.”

For recreationalists thinking of heading out back, you can view the danger ratings, training courses and equipment needs online at avalanche.ca  

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