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Avalanche risks for snowshoers drives new campaign

While many of the avalanche deaths this winter were among snowmobilers, another recent fatality is a reminder that any kind of travel in avalanche terrain has its risks.

A Canmore man died in an avalanche while snowshoeing in Kananaskis Country earlier this month

Experts say snowshoers need to be as focused on avalanche risks as other outdoor enthusiasts. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

While many of the avalanche deaths this winter were among snowmobilers, a recent fatality is a reminder that any kind of activity in avalanche terrain comes with risks.

A Canmore man died in an avalanche while snowshoeing in Kananaskis Country earlier this month.

Barry Taylor always takes a map when he goes snowshoeing.

The blogger behind the Hiking with Barry website says you need to know how to identify avalanche terrain before you go out.

Jeremy Mackenzie agrees.

The public safety specialist with Alberta Parks says they are seeing more and more snowshoers heading into the mountains.

"I would say the vast majority of snowshoers that are travelling in avalanche terrain are either completely unaware of the hazard that they are exposing themselves to and by and large are not properly prepared."

And beyond preparation, some are concerned about perception.

Avalanche Canada director Gilles Valade is worried about the belief that the sport is safer than others.

Avalanche Canada is currently working on a big campaign to educate snowshoers. (CBC)

"Just because of the way we think about snowshoes versus backcountry skiing, you automatically think about avalanches,  and same thing with snowmobiling,"  Valade said.

"But anybody on snowshoes would just assume that just because you are on snowshoes, you can't be in avalanche terrain."

Avalanche Canada is currently working on a big campaign to educate snowshoers.

It's expected to be rolled out in the fall.

With files from Caroline Wagner

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