Widespread avalanche warning issued for Easter weekend

Potentially dangerous conditions in the backcountry on both sides of the continental divide have prompted Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada and Kananaskis Public Safety to issue a special avalanche warning for the Easter weekend.

Snowpack 'very complex' and sensitive to human triggering

Backcountry skiers make their way through a canyon en route to Bow Hut in Banff National Park in this photo from January 2016. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

Potentially dangerous conditions in and around the Rockies on both sides of the continental divide have prompted Avalanche Canada, Parks Canada and Kananaskis Public Safety to issue a special avalanche warning for the Easter weekend.

Deeply buried weak layers of snow have recently been producing large slides, both human-triggered and naturally, Avalanche Canada said in its warning posted online.

"Backcountry users without experience or training in avalanche safety and terrain recognition should avoid avalanche terrain this weekend," the warning said. 

"For those with experience and avalanche safety training, be extremely cautious in areas with thin snowpack, and limit your exposure by avoiding large slopes."

The warning applies to:

  • Banff National Park.
  • Yoho National Park.
  • Kootenay National Park.
  • Jasper National Park.
  • Kananaskis Country.
  • The Purcells and north Rockies.

The warning is in effect from March 25 to March 28.

Jeremy Mackenzie with Kananaskis Public Safety says the warning is being issued because a warm forecast for the long weekend will bring a lot of snowmobilers, skiers and boarders out to the backcountry.

"And that's sort of combined right now with a snowpack that's very complex at the moment," Mackenzie said.

"And also we're finding that in specific areas it's very, very sensitive to human triggering."

He says he has observed "very large" avalanches every day last week.

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