New tools raise avalanche awareness

Before you head out into the backcountry with your Christmas ‘toys’, make sure you check the avalanche forecast and safety information

  • Dec. 22, 2014 7:00 a.m.

Alicia Wallace

Rossland News

Before you head out into the backcountry this winter with your new Christmas ‘toys’, make sure you check the avalanche forecast and safety information on Avalanche Canada’s revamped website

A lot of work has gone into developing a new platform on Avalanche Canada’s website to ensure all winter recreational users stay safe in the backcountry. Recently Avalanche Canada (AC) has undertaken a new branding exercise to separate themselves from the Canadian Avalanche Centre as the public voice on avalanche forecasting.

Earlier this year it was decided the public relations section of the centre would form its own name and continue developing tools for winter recreation users to the backcountry. Now the name Avalanche Canada is synonymous with the home of public avalanche safety information in Canada.

“Before there was brand confusion, we needed to separate (from the Canadian Avalanche Centre), as we shared a logo and a website with them,” explained Mary Clayton, Avalanche Canada’s communications director.

AC, the not-for-profit, non-government based organization, has undertaken the rebranding as economically as possible. AC crowd sourced a graphic designer to have their logo created and have undertaken the upgrades to technology in-house.

The website has long been a good source of information for anyone heading into the backcountry during the winter period. Now new interactive technology has been added to the website with map based displays of the avalanche forecasts. Later in the season, additional new features will be added. As a result, the user experience is more engaging and allows for additional information to be accessed to make informed decisions regarding safe travel in the backcountry.

“This (the map) is a natural extension, using a map based interface…makes logical sense,” said Avalanche Canada’s public avalanche warning service manager, Karl Klassen.

Throughout winter, AC issues free daily avalanche forecasts for much of the mountainous regions of western Canada. Rossland is within the Kootenay Boundary region, which includes local backcountry playground areas such as Kootenay Pass and the Rossland Range.

“Kootenay Boundary is definitely a place we are interested in having recreational users in the backcountry. Our goal is to try and engage as many backcountry users to better equip them to make more informed decisions in relation to avalanche risk,” said Klassen.

With the aim of eliminating avalanche fatalities and injuries in Canada, field observations from users on AC’s mountain information network and mountain weather forecast is utilized. These observations come from a variety of sources including avalanche consultancy firms, commercial winter guiding operators, ski hills, highway and railway maintenance crews, professional avalanche course participants, university research teams and AC winter field team staff. Observations AC receive from the public via the mobile app or website also assist.

The AC website also provides information on accredited avalanche training courses which Klassen describes could be a life saving Christmas present, especially for that someone who has everything.

“To be able to use our products and services, accredited training is very, very important for everyone that travels into the backcountry. (Accredited training) is certainly the kind of thing that makes a great Christmas present,” he said.


Additionally AC’s snowmobile specific webpage at highlights items of special interest to mountain snowmobilers for a safe experience in the backcountry.



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