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Working Together to Encourage Responsibility

We have put a lot of effort into developing products for new users, and are happy to report that we are seeing unprecedented levels of engagement with our programs. At the same time, winter has just started and it has already been a record year for SAR callouts here in BC. One member of North Shore Rescue recently told us that some of the people his team is responding to are "unprepared as humanly possible." While it is great to see people out and physically active, it is concerning when they are not taking responsibility for their actions. Working with partner agencies and stakeholders across the country, we'll continue to push our message of responsible and respectful use of the winter backcountry.

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In this issue:
Celebrating Teck
Avy Savvy Users
ACT Enrolment
FATMAP Sponsorship
Instagram Quiz
Snowmobile Signage
Avalanche Awareness Days
Upcoming Webinars
SplitFest 2021
Our South Rockies field team collects snowpack data and conducts outreach across the region. They have helped foster a culture of avalanche safety in the area. Field team for 2021, from left: Leslie Crawley, Lisa Larson, and Jennifer Coulter. Photo: Leslie Crawley

Teck: A Decade of Support

In mid-December, we celebrated 10 years of Teck’s support as a sponsor. Teck is one of our most important sponsors and their commitment to public avalanche safety has made a huge difference to backcountry users in southeastern BC and southwestern Alberta. Teck’s funding allowed us to create the South Rockies field team, which has helped us make invaluable strides in that area and is now a model for all our field teams. The Fernie Free Press ran this article on Teck’s support and we were happy to shine a spotlight on their dedication to the safety of their community.

Avy Savvy: 16,000 Users in One Month

Avy Savvy, our new online tutorial, has been used by nearly 16,000 people since its launch in December. Three-quarters of users are Canadian, and it has also been visited by people from all over the world. With so many new backcountry users this winter, we are thrilled to see how popular Avy Savvy has been in just a few weeks. It is an incredible online learning resource both for new backcountry users and people looking to refresh their avalanche safety knowledge. We’ve started working on a French translation that will be available soon.

Virtual Splitfest a Major Success

The annual Canuck Splitfest went online this year. It was a challenge to rethink an event that has always been focused on gathering splitboarders together in Revelstoke for a weekend of great backcountry riding and a fun Saturday night event. Organizers Jen George, our marketing & sponsorship coordinator, and AvCan Ambassador Abby Cooper put a ton of energy into creating a new approach that brought three evenings of webinars to an appreciative audience. Great speakers and wonderful sponsors made this our most successful Splitfest yet. Thank you to everyone who took part and helped us raise more than $28,000 for our programs. Read more about SplitFest 2021 here.

Foundation Fundraisers

The Avalanche Canada Foundation was forced to completely rethink fundraising in 2020. With big social gatherings not possible for the time being, we’ve had to find new ways to reach out to the mountain community. The Virtual Party for Powder auction and prize draw were a big success, generating over $70,000 in revenue in one week in November. We finished 2020 with the Double your Donation matching campaign, which raised $27,925 for the public avalanche safety programs. 

Thanks to Maggi Thornhill Personal Real Estate Corp for making Double Your Donation a reality, as well as everyone who supported these fundraisers. Stay tuned for more virtual fundraising initiatives in the New Year.

Donate Now
Although instructors are having to make changes in the way they deliver their courses, we are very encouraged by the high levels of enrolment in the Avalanche Canada Training program this winter. Photo: Curtis Pawliuk (taken pre-Covid)

AvCan Training Program 'Going Off'

There has been a big increase in the number of Avalanche Canada Training courses being delivered this winter. We’ve already sold more copies of our AST Handbook than we did all of last year, and many of our providers are reporting record enrolment for their courses.

We’ve created digital keys for our handbook so each student can access digital versions of the book, in addition to the print copy. This helps the instructors reduce the amount of indoor instruction time, which is made problematic by the COVID-19 pandemic. Giving students access to important material prior to the course ensures they are up to speed when they meet their instructors in the field.

FATMAP Sponsorship

We are pleased to welcome FATMAP on board as a new sponsor. FATMAP is an outdoor adventure platform and offers high-resolution 3D maps for both web and mobile. They have generously donated $2,500 in swag and vouchers for FATMAP Explore memberships. Prizing is being used for our weekly MIN to WIN contests, Avalanche Awareness Days, and Canuck Splitfest. Having great prizes helps us get users involved with our programs and we greatly appreciate the support from FATMAP.

Instagram Quiz

On Thursday, Jan. 7, we hosted an Instagram quiz that was aimed at getting people engaged with avalanche safety basics. The quiz reached nearly 11,000 people, and around 6,500 followers chose to answer questions. We were impressed (and pleased) that most people answered the questions correctly, and we received lots of positive feedback.

We'll be using the answers people gave to help us design future social media content, and we will run another quiz soon. We're also looking for other fun ways to use Instagram as a learning tool going forward.

This avalanche safety sign was erected at trailheads managed by the Golden Snowmobile Club after they noticed a large number of new sledders heading into their riding areas. Working with us and Recreation Sites & Trails BC, the sign was designed, developed, and put in place quickly. We hope to see other clubs use it as well. 

Avalanche Awareness Days

Annual Avalanche Awareness Days events are scaled back this year due to the pandemic, but we are happy that some organizations are going through with hosting events—with Covid precautions in place. For example, Lake Louise and Fernie Alpine Resort have both produced a series of videos about avalanche safety, while Fernie is also hosting a drop-in transceiver search contest on Jan. 30-31.

This year, Lake Louise, Fernie Alpine Resort, Kicking Horse Resort, and Marmot Basin are hosting events. AdventureSmart will be hosting events at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club, and Whistler Blackcomb. You can get all the details on our events page.

Launched in 2004, Avalanche Awareness Days normally sees dozens of volunteer organizations host avalanche safety events across western Canada. We are extremely grateful for the many volunteers who promote avalanche safety by putting on these events. We recognize the challenges that come with hosting AAD this year and we hope to see many more partners back on board in 2022.

Avalanche Awareness Days has moved online or will be socially distanced this year due to the pandemic. Photo from last year's AAD at Fernie Alpine Resort

Upcoming Webinars

Our online webinar series has been a huge success so far. After a bit of a break for the holidays and Canuck Splitfest, we are eager to resume this week. Here’s what we’ve got coming up:

  • Jan 21:  Be Avy Savvy—What SAR Wants You to Know
  • Jan. 28: Mt. Harvey Case Study. AvCan Forecast Mark Bender will present on this tragedy that took the lives of five snowshoers. AvCan Ambassador Abby Cooper will also speak on the importance of planning.
  • Feb. 11: Choosing Terrain for Skiers
Get all the details on our events page. Remember, if you miss a webinar, you can watch the recording later on our website.
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