Call for greater avalanche awareness
CANWEST NEWS SERVICEFEBRUARY 1, 2010
The B.C. Coroner's Service has released a report calling for greater avalanche awareness following the deaths of 19 snowmobilers last winter.
Sixteen panel members, including adventure-tourism industry representatives and avalanche-safety experts, concluded that in many of the deaths, the snowmobilers "had underestimated avalanche risks when faced with complex terrain and difficult snow conditions."
Al Hodgson, president of ABC Snowmobile Clubs and one of the panel members, said the group noticed commonalities surrounding each of the deaths.
The main problem was a lack of adequate training and education, Hodgson said.
"If snowmobilers get out in the mountains and make proper, safe, decisions, they won't expose themselves to situations that could lead to death," he said.
The panel made 15 recommendations, including developing an avalanche-awareness program in British Columbia and distributing avalanche-awareness materials at locations where operators register their snowmobiles.
The B.C. Coroner's Service received 24 reports of avalanche deaths during the 2008-09 winter. Nineteen involved recreational snowmobilers and five involved skiers and snow-boarders.
Eight men died in one incident alone when an avalanche buried a group of backcountry snowmobilers near Fernie, B.C., in December 2008.