Avalanche training on the mountain

Knowing how to avoid avalanches - and how to save people who don't - called crucial

Larry Roy

Larry Roy

Members of the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) were busy this weekend spreading the word on how to play safe in the snow.

Avalanche awareness events were held across the country and members of the Mount Washington Ski Patrol conducted some avalanche safety clinics on Saturday, Jan. 14. in the Backcountry Access Beacon Training Park on the hill.

The area provides an opportunity for amateurs and pros to practice using their transceivers. On Saturday a few people put their beacon finding skills to the test.

It was the first time Yoda Perron had ever ventured into the beacon park. The 19-year-old, who works in the rental department at Mount Washington, said he wanted to learn how to use probes and transceivers because occasionally he rides in the back country.  Perron, who grew up in Victoria, has a keen interest in avalanche safety since last year. When on a trip to the mountains in Switzerland, he was swept down a slope in an avalanche.

He said he was lucky he didn’t get buried alive. The snowboarder said he eventually wants to get his first aid and avalanche safety certification and work as a ski patroller on the the mountain.

Jesse Percival, avalanche forecaster and ski patrol director for Mount Washington, said the beacon park is an awesome educational tool that features permanently buried transmitters.

Also on hand for rescue demonstrations at the event was Maddy and even though Vancouver Island’s only Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) dog has retired, she had no problem finding a volunteer buried in the snow. Maddy’s owner Kevin Fogolin said his dog will be turning 14 years old in May and these days she only does searches for fun. He said currently there are no dogs in training for CARDA on the Island and he will not be training another dog because he has other commitments.

Saturday’s event at Mount Washington was a fundraiser for the Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre, which issues the Vancouver Island Avalanche Bulletin.

In its ongoing effort to prevent tragedies, the Vancouver Island Avalanche Centre also offers avalanche courses so outdoor enthusiasts can plan safe snow excursions.