A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Avalanche Canada has issued a warning for recreational backcountry users in British Columbia and Alberta, covering the North and South Rockies, the Lizard Range, Flathead and Waterton Lakes National Park.

The group says in a statement the warning is in effect Thursday through the coming weekend, and forecasters will reassess the situation on Monday to see if it should be extended into next week.

The statement says a persistent weak layer in the North Rockies has resulted in two recent deaths, and that unstable condition is also the suspected cause of a near-miss incident in the South Rockies, which resulted in very serious injuries.

It says the layer of concern is widespread throughout B.C., but it’s most susceptible to human triggering in those regions.

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts and to pack essential rescue gear, including a transceiver, probe and shovel, and have the knowledge of how to use it.

Warning service manager Karl Klassen says the next wave of storms will increase the load on the persistent weak layers, making avalanches even easier to trigger.

“This string of fatal and serious incidents should be a wake-up call for all backcountry users, especially in the North and South Rockies,” he says in the statement.

“This layer is deep enough that it’s not easily seen, but large and destructive human-triggered avalanches are expected.”

The Canadian Press

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