Avalanche Season has started

Trent Ernst, Editor

While winter enthusiasts have been complaining about the lack of snow, there’s still enough to spark off avalanches, and people are advised to have caution while exploring.

Recently, a snowshoer was partially buried while hiking into Bullmoose Falls, a horseshoe shaped canyon near the former Bullmoose mine.

Acording to the report on avalanche.ca, a party of three was snowshoeing to the falls.

While they went, they had to break trail through the deep snow. They observed some settlement and whumphing, which is sometimes a precursor to an avalanche. There was a loose facets layer evident,

but because the area offers relatively little exposure, the party continued on.

Two people went behind the falls, out of sight of the third person. The third person started a diagonal ascent of a 20 m high slope to the right of the falls (looking up).

According to the report, the person took a few steps at the base of the concave slope, and the slope released at the top, coming down onto the snowshoer.

Their snowshoes were trapped, and the snow knocked them over, burying them so that they were lying on their back with their head downslope. The slope, accord- ing to the report, was about ten degrees under the victim.

The snow buried the person so that only their head and one arm were visible. As the slide was happening, the person yelled three times, alerting the other two, who came over immediately and dug the person out. There was about half a meter

of debris over the chest of the person, but the snowshoes were buried deeper because they were already half a meter deep from trailbreaking.

This is the second year in a row that someone has been buried or partially buried by an avalanche on a small slope that might appear, at first glance, to not offer much avalanche danger.

The slope that slid was only about 20 m X 20 m or about 60 feet square). It was: “concave up to 35-40 degrees at top, and 10 degrees at the trigger point. The bed surface was variable: midway through the facet layer, 10 cm of old crusty snow right at ground level, or ground itself. It looked like 20 cm of facets with 50 cm of soft slab above.”

According to the person who submitted the report, they were surprised by the

amount of debris from such a small slope, as well as “the sensitivity of the slope to triggering (right at the base of the slope with only a few steps). The debris was relatively soft and easy to dig, which made rescue fast.

Outdoor explorers are reminded that the Mountain Information Network in Northern BC is driven by reports like this

from eyewitness observers. If you are out and about playing in the back country, check the avalanche.ca website for the latest report, or download the Avalanche Canada app to your smartphone. If there is no report available, or if its more than a few days old, submit a new one. The more points of data available, the more informed everyone can be when getting out to play.