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Canmore man writes avalanche safety book to advise mountain adventurers

A guide by Canmore resident, Doug Latimer called "Avalanche! The Guide's Guide to Safer Travel in the Mountains," is an interactive e-book that offers tips on mountain safety.

The interactive e-book includes video and tips

A ski guide in Canmore wrote the interactive e-book "Avalanche! The Guide's Guide to Safer Travel in the Mountains." (Photo provided by Doug Latimer)

A lot of us will be sticking closer to home over the holidays and heading to the mountains for winter sports and fresh air.

But backcountry travel comes with inherent risks — so before you go, research some safety guidelines.

A guide by Doug Latimer, called Avalanche! The Guide's Guide to Safer Travel in the Mountains, is an interactive e-book that offers some tips.

Latimer, an accredited ski guide who's been teaching avalanche safety for more than 20 years, says it includes more than two hours worth of video interviews and links to resources.

"I've had the opportunity to interview some of the top researchers in the country who are doing research on avalanche safety and best practices," he told The Homestretch.

"I've also been able to follow-up with people who've been involved in accidents."

  • Watch the below video to learn more.

He says research shows 80 per cent of avalanche fatalities are caused by human error — enforcing the need to improve avalanche safety.

"Statistically speaking, you have about a 50 per cent chance of still being alive after about 12 minutes in a full burial. People do survive longer, but the odds decrease," he said.

The writer explains that the book includes tips in case backcountry visitors are in a compromised situation.

For example, remember to pack a bag that includes an avalanche transceiver, a probe, shovel and helmet.

"The equipment is essential, but what I consider even more important is knowledge," he said.

That means that the area you're travelling to should be well-researched before you go, which you can do online at Avalanche Canada.

"Getting the information from the avalanche bulletin and then doing some basic research, taking an avalanche skills course. You can still get out and have a really good day and enjoy the fresh snow," he said.

Latimer adds that if you ever do come across an avalanche, try your best to get out of its away and maintain your speed until you're out of the gully.

"If you're caught and you're getting pulled in, you want to make sure you never got your ski pole straps on in the backcountry," he said.

"Get your poles off, kick out of your skis, kick out of your bindings, try and stay on top and maintain your airway."

The book explains that if you do get into a situation where you become buried in an avalanche, try to protect your mouth and core, said Latimer.

"And if you can punch a hand or a foot out just as the avalanche is coming to a stop, that can be a real key, because if people see a leg or an arm sticking out of the snow or better yet, to get your head out, they're going to find you fast."

He adds he thinks it's fantastic that the popularity of exploring the mountainside has increased, but in that case so should the level of respect to nature.

"You should get out and you should enjoy yourself but you need to be educated because it's not going to be a particularly safe winter, at least not in the near term."

If you want to learn more about avalanches, you can purchase the safety book online here.


With files from The Homestretch.

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