Skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling are fun winter activities for many Canadians. However, they can also be dangerous - especially when outdoor enthusiasts head into the backcountry.
So far this season, four backcountry skiers have died in BC, including a recent fatality near Golden on Friday.
Officials say knowledge is power - and the more you know about the conditions in the backcountry, the better your chances of staying alive.
Outdoor enthusiasts say they are drawn to the thrill of exploring the valleys and steep slopes of the backcountry; however, the decision to venture in to out-of-bounds areas can have fatal consequences.
Tim Jones is part of the North Shore Rescue Team in British Columbia. He says skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers should be staying inside hill boundaries.
“Once you go into the backcountry, out of bounds, anywhere where there's no controlled areas, your chance of falling without having the proper equipment is almost guaranteed,” explains Jones. ”These gully areas that are just icy, if you're on a snowboard or skis, you're going to just rocket. So we've been putting the message out that these types of falls are usually fatal.”
Jones says anyone planning to venture into the backcountry at any time needs to have the proper equipment.
“If you are going to be moving in this terrain, you need to have cramp-ons, an ice axe and you need to know how to use them. Along with that, you have to have very good mountaineering boots. So there has to be a certain skill level.”
According to the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC), in the past 30 years (1978-2007), an average of 11 avalanche fatalities have occurred per year in Canada. Snowmobiling is now the backcountry activity that accounts for the most avalanche fatalities.
You can stay up-to-date with current conditions on the slopes by checking our Ski Report.
You can also check the current avalanche conditions at www.avalanche.ca.