Traverse Planning

Planning Your Traverse for Avalanche Safety

View larger imageMount Jacobson - Coast Range | photo: J Kelly

Canada is home to some of the world's great ski traverses and people from all over the world come here for that reason. These grand traverses are different than the more common day- and hut-trips we commonly undertake. And they're different from trips along the high routes in Europe or the USA. Many of our ski traverses are remote, committing, and require a high level of self-sufficiency and resourcefulness.

Over the years, these challenging trips have surprised and thwarted many people. More than once I've been chewed up and spat out of the mountains while attempting a grand traverse. According to one seasoned Parks Canada Public Safety Warden reflecting on past rescues, "we're seeing experienced people not making the right choices".

Solid research, good planning, disciplined decision-making, and a dose of humility help make these trips a success. If this sounds like too much work or beyond your comfort zone, consider hiring a guide.

Finally, we started this project as purely an avalanche initiative; however, it grew into something with broader scope. In many ways that reflects the reality of travelling in the mountains--it's hard to isolate a single entity and separate it from all the others. Talking about avalanche risks on these traverses quickly led us into terrain where the Canadian Avalanche Centre doesn't normally tread.

Good luck and happy trails!

Please send comments to istorm at avalanche dot ca.

related links