Be ready for valley avalanche season


While Mother Nature is blessing us with ongoing good weather in the Bow Valley (16 C on Saturday, according to Environment Canada) it’s clearly time for backcountry enthusiasts to shift their focus to the possibility of avalanches.

Already (page 6), there have been a couple of avalanches in Kananaskis Country, with more surely to swoop down. That’s life in the Bow Valley of course; just about the time bears should be heading into dens and present less likelihood of human/wildlife incidents, avalanches take over as a phenomenon to be aware of. Long before we’re shovelling our walks, snow is falling heavily at elevation.

Warm weather outings will be popular in our valley as the mercury continues to hover near the teens and yet, hikers, climbers and ice climbers must be aware of danger and be able to differentiate between safe and questionable terrain.

As we head into the winter season, backcountry enthusiasts are reminded to check in advance of sorties into remote, or not so remote, areas.

For example, as we head for a 10-degree Halloween day, the avalanche bulletin shows there is 50 to 100 centimetres of snow at elevation and a reminder for those heading into the alpine to “make the mental shift to thinking about avalanches and the types of terrain that could pose problems. This is especially true for ice climbers in or under steep gullies.”

In K-Country, states early season avalanche conditions exist at higher elevations and, “Ice climbers should pay close attention to overhead terrain at this time.” provides a wealth of information on conditions across Alberta and B.C., with good graphics and brief descriptions of those conditions, including travel and terrain advice.

Transceivers, probes and shovels now seasonally replace bear spray as must-carry items. Now would be a good time to look into avalanche safety courses to add a measure of comfort to backcountry excursions.

Get ‘em out there

Speaking of the outdoors, we commend the Banff after school program Into The Wild as one which gets kids away from screens, phones and monitors and into the great outdoors.

Report after report and study after study shows that kids are spending far too much staring mesmerized at glowing screens of one sort or another – generally at the expense of physical activity or social discourse.

Like the Alpenglow Community Education Society and other outdoor programs at our schools, Into The Wild seems an ideal way to combat the growing problem of widespread overuse of portals to the digital online world.

And yes, while there are organized outdoor activities aplenty in our valley, there’s a lot to be said for kids just being kids; getting a little dirty, making some noise, chucking stones into the river, looking at animal tracks in the snow, watching birds fly south, observing all the facets of nature at one’s feet or in their immediate surroundings.

As David Suzuki has pointed out, kids can recognize hundreds of the corporate logos which are seen on TV and online, but most couldn’t name a few common plants and animals? So, the Nike swoosh, yes; kinnikinnick, no. The Golden Arches, easy; a mallard, not so much.

Kids need to get outdoors and have some familiarity with those surroundings. Most kids will spend much of their adult life in front of a screen or monitor, why subject them to that lifestyle at a young age?


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Rocky Mountain Outlook