Photo Credit: Alberni Valley Rescue Squad | Facebook

Avalanche Risk is Up, And the Rescue Squad Is Out

Don't be the reason the rescue squad has to come out

With a high risk of avalanches, volunteers are getting prepared.

There’s nothing like a good hike when the sun is shining.

With all the trail-sharing apps making the backcountry easier to access, local rescue teams are seeing more ill-prepared hikers out on backcountry trails.

They don’t want to see a fun afternoon turn into a recipe for disaster. And with the province urging caution in the backcountry due to high avalanche risk, Alberni Valley Rescue Squad (AVRS) is preparing to deal with just that.

Nine AVRS members participated in an Avalanche Skills Training course with Island Alpine Guides in the Comox Valley last weekend.

They were joined by volunteers from Comox Valley Search and Rescue, all of them with a common goal.

Getting prepared to save lives.

“This year’s snowpack is being compared to 2003, which was one of the worst years for avalanche fatalities,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness.

The AVRS covers some of the steepest and rockiest terrains on the Island.

“During the winter there is always a high possibility that we may need to respond into possible avalanche terrain,” AVRS spokesperson Richard Johns told Alberni Valley News.

To prepare, volunteers were taught to recognize avalanche terrain, and how to safely travel through for post-avalanche rescue.

“The focus of the course is on organized avalanche search and rescue techniques such as wanding, probing, transceiver searching, shovelling, and transportation of subjects,” AVRS said on Facebook.

In addition to those who were out learning last weekend, a select few are becoming experts in the field. That’s to ensure they can lead a successful mission.

“Additional members have continued their training into more advanced course with three members completing the four-day AST2 course, and one member just travelled to the Mainland to complete the four-day Organized Avalanche Response Team Leader course,” Johns said.

Thanks to their efforts, we can all feel safer when out traversing the Island.

But keep in mind, we are all responsible for avalanche safety.

Avalanche forecasts can be found online at

Check before you go out.