James Floyer, the Program Director and Senior Avalanche Forecaster of Avalanche Canada, joins us for this episode. Avalanche Canada is a non-government non-profit that focuses on avalanche safety for individuals in the backcountry.
Avalanches can happen anywhere there is steep terrain and significant snowfall. There are also a few different types, with loose snow and slab avalanches being the most dangerous. Because there is a lack of infrastructure, those most at risk to avalanches are people in the backcountry.
The MIN, or Mountain Information Network, is an observation system used by Avalanche Canada to assess risk. Individual users can submit information to this network, as it was created in response to recognition of an untapped resource for safety: the public.
Avalanche Canada puts out the call for public user support early in the season, and generally the response is quite strong. People feel called to step up to the plate and submit data, and looking at this data is where avalanche analysis and safety really begins.
Avalanche Canada also has six field teams, five of which are located in Western Canada. They go out about four times a week into data-sparse areas to gather information about snowpacks and make observations of conditions to feed back into the forecast center. They also demonstrate best-practices to the public to help keep everyone in the backcountry safe.