words :: Ben Osborne photos :: Courtesty of Avalanche Canada
If there wasn’t enough evidence out there to convince you to stop heading into the backcountry, let this be a sign. Avalanche Canada, the not-for-profit organization that provides daily advisories across Canada, has decided to end their services for the season beginning on March 28.
Because of their reliance on a number of avalanche professionals across Canada, the ability to get accurate and detailed information has been greatly hampered due to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the nation.
On top of that, Avalanche Canada is making the bold move to help lighten the load on the healthcare system.
“We do not want to provide a service that promotes recreating in mountainous terrain, where there is often significant hazard,” explains Executive Director Gilles Valade. “Both BC and Alberta have declared a state of emergency. Our health authorities, as well as our Prime Minister, are urging people to stay home. This is clearly not the time for taking any sort of risk.”
Avalanche Canada will also shut down the Mountain Information Network, an online platform that crowdsources trip reports and observations from the field.
“We do not take these steps lightly,” adds Valade. “Avalanche Canada is the national public avalanche safety organization and we take our responsibilities very seriously. But we feel it is essential that we work together and do what we can to avoid putting any extra load on our healthcare system at this time.”
A vital source of information for mountain enthusiasts, it’s up to organizations like Avalanche Canada to send a clear message to its users that going into the backcountry is not something they would recommend in this time crisis, and for that we applaud them. —ML