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Parks Canada a worldwide leader in avalanche information following 2003 school tragedy
Published Friday, February 1, 2013 11:50AM MST
Last Updated Friday, February 1, 2013 12:20PM MST
February 1, 2013 marks the ten year anniversary of the tragedy that killed seven Strathcona-Tweedsmuir students after they were buried in an avalanche in Rogers Pass.
Parks Canada has spent the last decade on a series of projects to improve its distribution of the avalanche bulletin and how it communicates avalanche risk to the public.
A team of forecasters in Banff National Park meet every morning and night during the winter months. They use all the data they can find on the web and visual inspections of trails to produce daily bulletins.
The national parks attract people from all over the world and not all visitors are aware of the dangers the mountains possess.
Parks Canada is working to ensure all people are fully informed of the risks before heading into the back country.
Forecasters say the terrain scale is an important tool that rates areas from simple to challenging to complex. With this knowledge, visitors can make an informed decision on which routes they should visit.
“The thing that people can control when they're in the mountains is where they actually go,” says Mountain Risk Specialist Grant Statham. “You can't control the weather, you can't control the snow, but you can control where you go. I really think the way mountain safety is going to improve is if people just get better at understanding avalanche terrain and make good choices on where they spend their day.”
Parks Canada works closely with the Canadian Avalanche Centre in its forecasting and the group’s bulletin format and avalanche danger scale are now the new international standard.
For updated avalanche forecasts and information visit the Parks Canada Mountain Safety website.