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Parks Canada staff says exercise caution in mountain parks this weekend

A view of Lake Louise from the trail up to the Lake Agnes Tea House, taken Sept. 20, 2016. (Shara Pixley - image credit)
A view of Lake Louise from the trail up to the Lake Agnes Tea House, taken Sept. 20, 2016. (Shara Pixley - image credit)

Last weekend's special backcountry avalanche warning has ended, but Parks Canada says avalanche conditions persist, especially following unseasonably warm weather.

"What people really need to be aware of in the parks right now is that many of our trails are still snowbound," said Lisa Paulson, Parks Canada visitor safety specialist.

She added that Plain of Six Glaciers, Lake Agnes, Saddleback Pass, and Sulphur Mountain still have snow on them.

"You can very quickly get into avalanche terrain and in the Spring we are still seeing active avalanches, especially when the day warms up," Paulson said.

Avalanche warnings are posted on popular trails around Lake Louise, Emerald Lake and Sulphur Mountain near Banff. Paulson added that avalanche risk in those areas will continue until the snow melts.

She said that there is also a risk of getting stuck in deep snow — something she advised Albertans to be cautious of.

"We see as people start to walk out on snow trails and they don't have to be in avalanche terrain, but they walk out in the morning when the snow might have frozen overnight.

And then, as the snow melts through the day, they find that they are now in isothermal snow," Paulson said.

That leaves people thigh-deep in snow and unable to hike back, creating an emergency.

She said there are lots of safe places where Albertans can still hike — and trail reports and the visitor information centre are available to provide up to date information.