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Short film shows rugged, dangerous avalanche jobs in Rogers Pass

The 12-minute film shows the impressive work two females contributed to make Rogers Pass what it is today.

A 12-minute short film captures the dangerous job that two women have done to keep people safe in B.C.’s Rogers Pass. 

'The Pass' presented by Arc’teryx has more than 304,000 views on YouTube after being shared on Jan. 15. 

The film takes a close look at Rogers Pass where 2,000 avalanche events happen each winter along the Trans-Canada Highway.

Sylvia Forest and Danyelle Magnan are both featured for their efforts in making the area safe. The film shows off the rugged, mountainous region that many B.C. residents will likely recognize. 

“The transportation corridor through Rogers Pass is known to be one of the most complex and challenging avalanche control programs in the world,” says Magnan in the film. 

Magnan, who works as an avalanche operations officer with Parks Canada, explains how there is a lot of weight in the decisions they make as ultimately, they’re responsible for people’s lives. 

“Nature still has a tendency to surprise us,” she says. 

She was the first woman on the elite Rogers Pass avalanche forecasting team, the film notes. Avalanche control is done with military artillery, helicopters and remote control systems as shown in the film.

Forest, meanwhile, rose to leadership through mountain rescue, guiding and avalanche safety. In the film, Forest and Magnan reunite for a ski tour after 10 years in the Pass. 

“I was just really drawn to Rogers Pass and Glacier [National] Park,” Forest says.

She worked as a visitor safety manager for Parks Canada from 2005 to 2013 and mentored Magnan. The film explains how she developed the rescue team in Rogers Pass. 

Forest was one of the architects of the permit system that was designed to keep skiers safe after the area was off-limits to ski touring for decades. 

“There is no other place in the entire world that has the complexity of Rogers Pass,” Forest says in the film. “Weather patterns that affect Rogers Pass can be quite violent at times.”

Only people with permits can access the slopes; this way, avalanche control knows when and where people are. 

“Even if one person ends up in a closed area when avalanche control is happening, the consequences are potentially fatal,” she adds.

In the description of the film, it explains how "these two women represent a small but pivotal part of the seismic shift happening to the face of mountain culture."

Female-led Well Travelled Collective is the production company that worked on the film. Arc'teryx is a Canadian company with headquarters in North Vancouver.