It’s probably time to beef up your basic backcountry skills

Terrace's Mount Remo Backcountry Society is hosting its annual Avalanche Awareness Day this weekend at Shames Mountain

  • Jan. 14, 2015 12:00 p.m.

Anytime you duck under a rope while skiing, you’re technically in the backcountry – so it only makes sense that you should have some basic backcountry skills when you’re out there.

To that end, the Mount Remo Backcountry Society (MRBS) is hosting its annual Avalanche Awareness Day this Sunday, January 18 at Shames Mountain in conjunction with National Avalanche Awareness weekend.

The idea is to “get people involved and engaged to raise the local level of backcountry and avalanche awareness, increase people’s safety while they’re out there and get people excited about backcountry skiing as well,” said MRBS president Jupiter MacDonald. “Ideally we’d like to see people brand new or just starting out because they have the most to learn, but there’s also aspects that do get into the more complex, in depth ideas or discussions or topics so there is a broad range for all types of levels. From zero experience right up to a professional level, there’s always something to learn.”

The all-day event’s home base will be an information tent with various materials and presentations from avalanche professionals. There will also be demonstrations at the top T-bar.

There’ll be a basic and advanced beacon search plots so that people can test out avalanche gear, with volunteers demonstrating the proper procedures to use a probe, transceiver and shovel.

“It’s pretty straightforward but there are really efficient ways that have been developed over time,” said MacDonald. And efficiency is important in the rare chance there is an accident.

“It all starts by trying to prevent any accidents, but if an accident does happen then people are informed and have the right knowledge to use their equipment,” he said.

Backcountry skiing doesn’t have to be an “elaborate or complex trip,” he said, noting that particular attention is being paid this year to helping everyday skiers become more aware. “There’s lots of places to go backcountry skiing where you’re in very low risk situations and then you can go all the way up into really high risk areas.”

But once you go under a rope, a patroller isn’t going to come get you so increasing your knowledge is key – and that’s where this event can help. “Just some simple things that you can learn about, carry with you and practise can maybe one day – if you need it – help you or help a friend,” he said.