Fresh snow has many outdoor adventurers looking lustily towards the North Shore mountains — but North Shore Rescue is urging people to stay safe if they attempt backcountry excursions.
Mike Danks, coordinator of the volunteer-run operation says his team has been busy preparing, but has not yet been busy with calls, which is good news.
But the North Shore mountains can be deceptively dangerous. They may look relatively tame on the southern side, as seen from the city, but Danks said the terrain quickly transitions into avalanche territory on the northern side of the range.
"We've had a lot people in the past that have gone into the Hanes Valley at a time like this," Danks said. "That area is closed, and it's closed for a reason. We've had a number of fatalities back there."
"Once you get into any gullies, you're in a terrain trap, and that's when you need to really watch out."
Always research your planned route
Danks urged anyone headed into the backcountry to bring avalanche gear, including a transceiver, a probe and a shovel at the bare minimum.
Danks also recommends bringing extra layers and food, a light source, a communication device and a navigation aid — just like on any other mountain hike.
But most importantly, Danks stresses the importance of researching the hike, ski or snowshoe route planned, including taking note of current and forecasted weather conditions.
"It really comes down to doing the research on the hike that you're doing, make sure you're physically fit to do that hike, and that you have all the appropriate equipment," he said.
For those curious to know more, Danks said North Shore Rescue's website contains detailed information about how to prepare for a winter hike, including what to bring and how to stay safe in avalanche country.