Avalanche warning extended in Kananaskis, Purcells

An avalanche warning issued earlier this week has been extended, but only for the Purcell Mountains and Kananaskis Country, Avalanche Canada stated in a release Friday.

The warning initially included the Sea-to-Sky region, South Rockies, inland of the south coast of B.C., Lizard Range-Flathead and Wateron Lakes National Park, in addition to Kananaskis Country and the Purcells.

"It seems to be settling down in a number of regions that were originally identified, but it remains very active in the Purcells and Kananaskis Country," said James Floyer, forecast program supervisor for Avalanche Canada.

Parks Canada says controlling the urge to ski fresh powder on big features will be the most important factor in avoiding an avalanche.

According to the release, the weight of a person or a snowmobile could easily trigger a large avalanche because of a weak layer of snow that is now buried "more than a metre deep in these regions." 

"We've been tracking this layer since we issued the warning on Dec. 23," said Floyer.

Those venturing out are warned to avoid potentially treacherous areas entirely, the release said.

All backcountry users are also urged to stay abreast of avalanche forecasts and pack rescue gear — namely a transceiver, probe and shovel, when venturing out. 

They should also re-group well away from avalanche slopes, including overhead hazards such as cornices.