Avalanche Awareness Days brings local 

There could be no better time to hold the annual Avalanche Awareness Days after several deadly avalanches in the west.

“You always encourage people to learn more about avalanches if they’re going to be spending time in the mountains,” said Duncan MacKenzie, with Whistler-Blackcomb’s safety department.

“This year more than ever people should really pay attention.”

Educational and fun events will be held in different communities over the course of the Jan. 12-13 weekend as part of the Canadian Avalanche Centre’s awareness program.

MacKenzie has helped organize several events on Whistler Mountain on Saturday, Jan. 12.

The events begin at 11 a.m. at the light board near the Roundhouse. Every hour the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) will be putting on demonstrations with their search dogs to show how quickly the dog and handler teams can find a person buried under snow.

A Whistler patroller will also be on hand to teach people the proper techniques in using their avalanche transceivers with some valuable tips that could shave minutes off a rescue.

Other companies will be on hand to showcase their products, such as the RECCO avalanche rescue system.

The Pemberton Snowmobile Club is also hosting a Poker Run on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 9 a.m. The run beings at the Rutherford FSR trailhead and finishes at 1 p.m. at the Rutherford Cabin. There will be cash prizes, draw prizes and avalanche awareness and snowmobile safety stations along the route. The $20 entry fee includes two poker hands, lunch and a grooming fee.

Local MLA Joan McIntyre is encouraging everyone to be safe when enjoying the backcountry.

“I’m encouraging all of our local outdoor enthusiasts to attend one of these information events this weekend,” said the MLA for West Vancouver-Garibaldi. “Enjoyment of the backcountry doesn’t have to be hindered; the key is education and taking the proper precautions to avoid a dangerous situation.”

A complete list of events and contact information is available through the Canadian Avalanche Centre at www.avalanche.ca or by calling 1-800-667-1105.

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