Avalanche Awareness Day is a national celebration of Canada’s avalanche safety expertise. Each year Alberta Parks hosts this event in Kananaskis Country.
Alberta Avalanche Actualities
There are an average of 15 to 20 “avalanche involvements” reported to Alberta Parks every season. An “avalanche involvement” may include a person(s) caught and buried (or partially buried) in an avalanche that is either injured or uninjured. However, we suspect that many more avalanche involvements occur each year that go unreported. Our staff perform avalanche control using explosives to mitigate avalanche risk to the highways within the Kananaskis Region. This occurs an average of 3 to 4 times per season.
Our Commitment to Safety
The responsibilities of the Kananaskis Public Safety Team Specialists include all aspects of search and rescue operations and training. During the avalanche forecasting season the team produces a daily Public Avalanche Bulletin, a daily Highways Avalanche Danger Forecast, performs avalanche control as necessary for two Provincial highways and two cross-country ski trails, trains Conservation Officers in avalanche forecasting and rescue skills and performs avalanche rescue as necessary.
It’s important that our visitors have safe mountain experiences, which is why we started the Avalanche Awareness Day event in 2013. It is also an opportunity for the public to engage with industry professionals such as experienced mountain guides. Last year, Avalanche Awareness Day attracted over 400 people, a feat made possible by the 40 volunteers, 10 Alberta Parks staff, and more than 30 exhibitors!
The Main Event
The event attracts mainly those new to winter recreational activities and last year’s favourite activities included the quinzee building station along with the snow study pits. Other stations include beacon and transceiver searches, fire starting strategies, avalanche rescue dogs, and winter ecology. Our goal first and foremost is to ensure that visitors leave with an improved understanding of how to recreate safely in our provincial parks.
Professional guides and exhibitors are also on-site to share available avalanche training course information and the latest avalanche gear including clothing, air bags, beacons, shovels, and more. For those who are new to winter recreation, there will be opportunities to try out snowshoes and fat bikes – there will also be a demonstration of the adaptive sit ski.
Organizers recommend that you dress warmly, bring plenty of water, snacks, and a camera! There will be free hot chocolate and hot dogs around roaring fire pits to keep you warm!