People looking to spend the next few days outdoors are being warned to avoid backcountry areas accessed from the Klondike Highway between Carcross and the U.S. border because of avalanche concerns.
The warning comes from the Canadian Avalanche Centre and the Yukon Avalanche Association.
There is a weak layer in the snowpack that formed during the dry, cold spell in late January and early February, explained avalanche technician Justin Abbiss in a statement.
“This layer has been resulting in natural avalanches recently, which has made the problem more obvious to backcountry users.
“Now that natural activity – when weather triggers the avalanche – has slowed down, but the weak layer is still there and in many places it’s primed for triggering by the weight of a person on skis or snowmobile.”
People should stay away unless they have advanced avalanche skills and training.
The warning runs from today through the weekend to the end of Monday, March 24.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the distribution of the weak layer is inconsistent, the experts say.
“This makes it difficult to assess which slopes are hazardous and which ones are safer,” said Abbiss. “Even if you see people on a slope, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe. They could be just missing the sweet spot that tips the balance.”
Users are being asked to consider the consequences of an avalanche when they’re deciding where to ride, to put one person on a slope at a time and pay careful attention to where they re-group, ensuring they’re well away from avalanche slopes.
The groups say everyone in a backcountry party needs an avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel and needs to know how to use their rescue gear effectively.
Avalanche conditions can be found at YukonAvalanche.ca.