There’s a reason that the Freeride World Tour makes a stop in Golden. The mountains are big and the snow is deep. In addition to that, the Dogtooth range is a stone’s throw away from the infamous Rogers Pass, making Golden a backcountry hub. It’s some of the most accessible big mountain terrain in the whole of Western Canada and that powerful mix of huge mountains and fresh powder is a combo few of us can resist, so here are some of our top tips for staying safe in the mountains this winter:
(Photo: Abby Cooper)
- There’s no such thing as the side country or slack country. It might be easy to get to but you’re in the backcountry as soon as you pass the boundary rope. You need to be prepared to ride there, even if you’re staying close to the ski area.
- Get the gear (and know how to use it). Whenever you’re venturing out of bounds, you’ll need to get the right gear and make sure you know how to use it. A transceiver (sometimes called a beacon), probe, and shovel are essential equipment. Make sure you’re trained with your gear and practising regularly.
(Photo: Greg Paltinger)
Get the training. An Avalanche Canada Training course is essential if you’re thinking of heading into the backcountry, whether on skis, a snowboard, a sled, or snowshoes. There are courses to suit all experience levels and disciplines. Taking a course is a great opportunity to learn and meet other likeminded people too. Your best tool in an emergency is yourself, so make sure you’ve got the knowledge you need.
(Photo: Kate Ediger)
Get the forecast. To make good decisions, you’ll need to know what avalanche conditions you’re likely to encounter. The daily forecasts at avalanche.ca are the best place to get this information. The forecast will give you info on the snowpack, travel advice for terrain to seek out or avoid, and an idea of what to expect in the following days. Download the free Avalanche Canada app to get the forecasts on your phone (available for iOS and Android).
(Photo: Jennifer Coulter)
Remember, avalanche terrain isn’t always easy to spot. Even if you’re not standing on steep slopes, you can still be in danger. Remember to look up and be aware of what’s around you. Head to avalanche.ca to learn more about what kind of terrain to look out for.
Check if you need a winter permit. If you’re heading to Rogers Pass, you’ll need a winter permit and know what areas are closed for the day. Access to the park for winter recreation relies on compliance with the rules.
Want to learn more, find a course, or an event near you? Avalanche.ca has course listings, an online tutorial, and lots of other helpful tools to help you know more, go farther, and come home safe.
(Photo: Abby Cooper)