- Avalanche gear is too expensive – If you can afford to snowmobile you can afford avalanche gear. Your avalanche gear will not only can save your life but will help you save the lives of others should they be involved in an avalanche. Think about that for a moment. What if you were riding with your children, your spouse, your best friend and they were buried. Wouldn’t you want to have every available tool to save their lives?
- Avalanche courses are too expensive – A similar train of thought as the previous post, if you can afford to ride you can afford an avalanche course. Think of your AST 1 as your ticket to ride the mountains of British Columbia. An AST 1 is the bare minimum level of education recommended to help you manage the BC mountain terrain more effectively, giving you life saving skills.
- I only ride on trails or roads so I am not in Avalanche Terrain – This is the remark often made by those who are not avy savvy and really, nothing could be further from the truth. Avalanches can and will cross trails and logging roads. Many trails in BC cross Avalanche Paths and the unnaturally sharp cuts in the banks above and below logging roads can be a further catalyst for a slide. If there is a hill more than 30 degrees above or below you then you are in Avalanche Terrain.
- I can look after myself – Perhaps you feel you are responsible enough to make your own choices in the backcountry, but there is a saying. “You just don’t know, what you don’t know” meaning everyone who takes an AST 1 class for the first time becomes humbled realizing the times they may have put themselves and others in jeopardy with poor choices and terrain management. It really isn’t only about you, it’s about those you ride with, and our hardworking BC Search and Rescue volunteers, who take time away from their family because they are called out on a rescue. It just isn’t about you. Look at the big picture.
- I ride alone because there is no-one to go with – Let’s face it. Winter is a much different beast than summer, for if you are lost or stranded in the backcountry during winter, she is cruel. There are so many opportunities for something to go wrong when you are alone including involvement in an avalanche, tree well submersion, breaking through ice, being pinned under your sled or somehow become too injured to ride out? Hypothermia sets in quickly and will take your life without hesitation. Never ride alone and always ensure you have enough gear with you to spend the night comfortably in cold temperatures in case you are separated.
- I’ve been sledding for decades – Great, good for you, but today’s machines are much different from the ones manufactured even simply a decade before. These machines will take you farther and deeper into the backcountry. These machines have much greater horsepower than those from years before some even coming with a factory turbo. Will it make you want to climb higher? Get the education and equipment even if you’ve been sledding for decades. It’s the smart thing to do.
- The people I ride with don’t have equipment so what’s the use – To that our reply would be it’s time for a new crew for yours certainly won’t have your back and may even be increasing the risk for you and others with their lack of terrain knowledge. You want people with you that have the gear, have the training and that will be able to complete a successful rescue if needed should an avalanche occur.
Our hope is that those who are Avy Savvy will reach out to others to help mentor a safer sled culture. Point them in the right direction by directing them to Avalanche Canada’s resources and Avalanche Educators in their area. At the bare minimum check out Avalanche Canada's new Avy Savvy online Avalanche Tutorial.
Thank you to all of those who do have their avalanche gear and training! You truly do make a difference and we want everyone to come home safe each and every ride!