Avalanche risk likely high in White Pass, says Yukon Avalanche Association

The Yukon Avalanche Association is advising people to be cautious if they're headed to the White Pass area in the coming days, as conditions may be dangerous. The organization does not have money to provide accurate avalanche forecasts until March.

Avalanche risk likely high right now, but there's no money for accurate forecasts

A three-man crew from the Yukon Avalanche Association travels on skis in the White Pass area, in 2014. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

Variable weather through Yukon and northern B.C. has likely created dangerous conditions this week in the White Pass area, according to the Yukon Avalanche Association (YAA). 

"I would give things a few days," said Jasmin Dobson, vice president of the non-profit YAA. 

She said rapidly-changing temperatures, combined with heavy snowfall (expected in White Pass in the coming days) can increase avalanche risk.

However, Dobson's advice is based partly on guesswork and on avalanche forecasts from other, nearby regions — Haines, Alaska, and northwestern B.C. The YAA does not have the money to collect its own data from the White Pass area.

"We have an idea, but because we don't have those avalanche technicians out there gathering information, we can't produce a forecast," she said. 

Some of YAA's funding for avalanche forecast services has come from the federal and territorial governments, but it's not enough. Dobson said the organization has struggled to find alternate funding, and so it won't produce any forecasts until March.

In the meantime, Dobson says skiers and snowmobilers have to rely on other backcountry enthusiasts who share their observations online.

"That's all we have. And that's not from professionals, that's just from other recreationalists out there, that are skiing and letting other people know what they see," she said.

The YAA hopes to extend its forecast season next winter, but that will depend on money. Without additional funds, "we're going to have to look at maybe a different way of doing things up here," Dobson said.

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