New users of the winter backcountry can now access an additional online avalanche safety tool from Avalanche Canada.
“It’s vital for anyone venturing into the winter backcountry to have a full appreciation of the challenges involved,” said Gilles Valade, Avalanche Canada’s executive director in a news release issued Dec. 8.
The new program — Avy Savvy — provides a great first step in avalanche safety education, he added, noting there were plans in the works to add additional programs, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated their efforts.
In the last six months they developed what they thought they’d do in the next few years, Valade told Black Press Media.
Aside from avalanche safety fundamentals, Avy Savvy explains the many tools available to backcountry users on the Avalanche Canada website, such as the daily forecast and the online trip planner.
Avalanche danger is going to be HIGH for regions of BC as the stormy weather returns ❄️ Expect big changes in conditions and elevated avalanche danger if you're heading out.
— Avalanche Canada (@avalancheca) December 8, 2020
The communications team, forecasters and IT team collaborated to design the program and have included videos, images, animations, and interactive quizzes to help with the learning process.
Avalanche Canada has had an online tutorial for many years, but with the pandemic increasing backcountry usage, the organization seized the opportunity to improve the program.
“We used a new platform and emphasized user engagement and interactivity. Our team has been working hard on this all summer and I’m very proud that we are able to provide yet another significant and science-based tool for winter backcountry users,” Valade said.
Avy Savvy is currently available in English and is being translated into French.
About 11,000 people have taken Avalanche Canada courses yearly for the last three winters and every year the number of people using the website and online services is growing.
“We do a weekly webinar on different topics and we had one for new users two weeks ago. We had 1,000 people registered for a Wednesday night tutorial so that was fantastic,” Valade said.