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Justice minister issues spring break slackcountry warning

A sign at Revelstoke Mountain Resort warns against unprepared excursions into the backcountry.  - Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Times Review file photo
A sign at Revelstoke Mountain Resort warns against unprepared excursions into the backcountry.
— image credit: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Times Review file photo

The B.C. Ministry of Justice has issued an unusual warning against unprepared 'slackcountry' skiing.

A Mar. 12 media release defines slackcountry as lift-accessed backcountry skiing, warning those who duck the ropes that they are essentially backcountry skiing and should be prepared.

"It is important that those who venture out-of-bounds take all the necessary precautions and that all recreation enthusiasts who choose to do so recognize they are taking some measure of personal risk," states the ministry.

B.C. Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond underscored the potential dangers involved in a warning targeted at spring breakers heading for the slopes: "It should not be called slackcountry. It is backcountry and it can be dangerous. This spring break, we are urging skiers and snowboarders not to go out of bounds – it can be incredibly hazardous and it is simply not worth the risk. I also want to encourage everyone to make sure that they are aware of the dangers that come with ducking the rope. This is especially important for parents to discuss with their children."

She was joined by Revelstoke-based acting Executive Director for the Canadian Avalanche Centre Karl Klassen, who called for caution and preparedness: "Crossing a boundary rope is a big decision. Once you're outside the ski area boundaries you're in the backcountry and you need to be able to take care of yourself and your partners. That means avalanche rescue equipment, first aid supplies and awareness of the risk you're taking."

A fatal Feb. 22 avalanche outside the boundary rope at Revelstoke Mountain Resort occurred after a group of skiers ducked the rope into an uncontrolled area and were swept down the hill in an avalanche.

The joint Ministry of Justice and Canadian Avalanche Centre media release provided the following list of resources:

* No one should be entering areas marked "closed", whether for avalanche danger or any other hazard. If you do so, you run the risk of having your lift pass revoked and even being fined. Most importantly, you are endangering yourself and others.

* If you are thinking of going out of bounds, check in with the resort for the best point of access to the backcountry.

* Everyone in a backcountry party needs to be equipped with a shovel, probe and transceiver. More information on safety equipment is available at: www.youtube.com/user/emergencyinfobc

* The CAC strongly recommends all backcountry users take an avalanche awareness course. A list of instructors and courses can be found at:

www.avalanche.ca/training

* Snowpack stability changes constantly throughout the winter. Backcountry users need to check the avalanche bulletin regularly to keep informed of conditions in their area. Get the most recent bulletin and weather forecasts at:

www.avalanche.ca/cac/bulletins/latest

* Planning ahead is a must - before you head outdoors be sure to leave a trip plan with someone and stick to that plan. For a printable copy of a trip plan visit:

www.adventuresmart.ca/trip_safety/planning.htm

 

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