Calgary

Entry into prohibited zone forces closure of backcountry area around Rogers Pass

A portion of Glacier National Park near Rogers Pass has been closed to backcountry excursions after several people entered a prohibited area where regular avalanche control is conducted using artillery fired from the highway.

Several people entered an area where avalanche control is conducted using artillery

An area of Rogers Pass where avalanches are common. (Parks Canada)

A portion of Glacier National Park near Rogers Pass has been closed to backcountry excursions after several people entered a prohibited area where regular avalanche control is conducted using artillery fired from the highway.

Parks Canada staff noticed tracks leading from an area that requires a permit to enter and going into the adjacent Macdonald West Winter Prohibited Area. 

"When we saw those tracks entering, one of the problems is that it tends to attract other skiers into that area as well," said Danyelle Magnan, an avalanche operations officer in Glacier.  

Several people entered the prohibited area to the north, forcing the closure of the adjacent permit zone. (Parks Canada)

"And it's really important to us that we have compliance with our winter permit system — that's essential. So as a result, we close the adjacent area until we have enough snow to cover those tracks and it doesn't keep drawing people into the prohibited area."

Not only are explosives fired into the prohibited area in order to protect the Trans-Canada Highway from avalanches, staff from Parks Canada also use the terrain to examine the snowpack and develop avalanche forecasts. 

The military fires explosives into the mountains of Rogers Pass as part of an ongoing program to fight avalanches. 2:56

The people who entered the prohibited area had already left by the time their tracks were discovered, so Magnan couldn't say whether it was on purpose or accidental. 

"We have excellent compliance, it's why our winter permit system works is because overall we have wonderful compliance," she said.

"Our visitors respect the rules and they appreciate that the system is in place for their safety and to enable them access into these areas."

Those who enter prohibited areas may face a maximum fine of $25,000. 

The area will remain closed until further notice. 

 

With files from Dave Gilson

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