Calgary

Kananaskis search and rescue calls jump by 50% over 2015

Alberta Parks officials have seen a 50 per cent spike in search and rescue calls in Kananaskis Country this spring compared to last year.

Backcountry users say warmer weather a factor as more people seem to be getting outdoors

Pamela Kuipers, hiking up Prairie Mountain in Kananaskis Country, said she was able to get out hiking much earlier this year. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Alberta Parks officials have seen a 50 per cent spike in search and rescue calls in Kananaskis Country this spring compared to last year. 

There's no official reason given for the increase, but some users are pointing to warmer weather and increased outdoor activity as related factors.

Pamela Kuipers said an early spring in the foothills has helped her to hit the trails a lot sooner this year.

"Easter weekend was the first weekend I was out here, and that was like end of March," she said. 

Despite the drier conditions, Jeff Bullock with the University of Calgary Outdoor Centre said there are still snow-related risks for those eager to take advantage of the relatively warm weather.

Care line the road near Elbow Falls in Kananaskis Country on April 18. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Particularly after midday, when things start to warm up, the potential for avalanches grows.

"And we're often drawn to the snow because it's easy to travel up; it's quick to travel down," Bullock said.

"People just need to be very, very careful of that. In the mornings, often it's icy, it's frozen, there's no avalanche danger. In the afternoons, that changes very quickly."

Parks Canada officials said they haven't seen the same spike in rescue calls in the mountain parks.

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