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Our youth and adult outreach programs have moved online this year due to Covid-19, but with new opportunities for online learning, we're able to reach more people than ever. Photo by Todd Weselake.

Engaging New Users

Reaching out to new backcountry users has always been a priority for us but this year it's even more important, as the backcountry becomes busier than ever. A great deal of our work has been focused on communicating as widely as possible. Our outreach has gone online, with a highly successful webinar series that is reaching hundreds of viewers during each session, while countless more watch the recordings later. We've done media interviews such as this one with The Globe & Mail, and published blog posts with partners.

Now, we're launching Avy Savvy, our new online tutorial that we hope will become the starting point for any recreationists entering the backcountry for the first time this winter.

Pour la version française, cliquez ici.

In this issue:

Avy Savvy 
Party for Powder
Forecast by Text
Newfoundland Staff
Canuck Splitfest
BRP/Ski-Doo Sled Loan
Forecasts in French
Surge on the MIN
Sled Mentorship
Webinar Series

Avy Savvy Online Tutorial Launched

Avy Savvy, our new online avalanche tutorial is now live and providing a valuable tool for new backcountry users and veterans alike. 

Avy Savvy modernizes our tutorial and aligns the curriculum with our Avalanche Skills Training Handbook, with chapters on avalanche formation, avalanche terrain, the avalanche forecast, trip planning, and companion rescue. Our vision was to create a product that would prepare people for their first forays into winter backcountry recreation and provide a solid foundation for their AST 1 course. It's also a great tool for anyone looking to refresh knowledge.

Built on a new platform, Avy Savvy was a major undertaking that involved collaboration between our IT team, communications group, and forecasters. It features hundreds of photos, videos, quizzes, and exercises designed to help people start their avalanche journey. Among the highlights are:

  • Route finding exercises to help people navigate through the mountains.
  • Videos explaining the avalanche problems found in the forecasts.
  • Exercises created by Simon Fraser University that tests comprehension of the avalanche forecast.
  • Animations and videos on companion rescue by Backcountry Learning.

Thank you to K2, BCA, and the Community Foundations of Canada for supporting Avy Savvy.

Party for Powder Success! 

The virtual Party for Powder online auction and prize draw proved to be a resounding hit, raising over $60,000 to support Avalanche Canada safety programs. Many thanks to all the sponsors, auction item donors, ticket donors, and, of course, all the participants who helped make it such a success.

While this is a tremendous outcome, our work is not done. Demand for AvCan programs has increased by magnitudes already this early in the season. The Avalanche Canada Foundation has a new and exciting opportunity, thanks to the generosity of Maggi Thornhill Personal Real Estate Corp. Maggi will match donations during the month of December up to a maximum of $10,000. So donate now to DOUBLE YOUR IMPACT to the Avalanche Canada Foundation.  

Donate Now

Forecast by Text

We are always looking for ways to deliver avalanche safety information to as many users as possible. Now, backcountry recreationists spending extended periods offline and away from cell service can access an abbreviated version of their daily reginal forecast with their satellite messenger devices, such as an InReach or SPOT.

Forecasts by text message will come in two short messages: the first containing the danger ratings and the second containing the forecaster's key messages for the current conditions. The full forecast accessed through the Avalanche Canada app is always the best choice but for users spending multiple days in remote locations away from cel service, this will be a great option.

Find out more here.

Andy Nichols (left) is our new Newfoundland coordinator and field technician, and Peter Thurlow (right) will serve as assistant field tech. Photos contributed

New Staff in Newfoundland

Avalanche Canada has more than doubled program funding in Newfoundland & Labrador for this season, thanks to the Government of Canada endowment. This has allowed us to hire a coordinator/field technician and an assistant technician, and begin the process of building more fully fledged public avalanche safety programs in the province. This year’s objectives are to:

  • assess public avalanche safety needs;
  • build relationships with partners and stakeholders; 
  • provide outreach, awareness, and youth education; 
  • develop and implement a field data observation program; 
  • provide avalanche information to users when necessary; and 
  • offer recommendations for future products and services.

This will set the stage for building a sustainable program that meets the long-term needs of the region with guidance from locals. We are very excited about this work and look forward to seeing public avalanche safety programs in Newfoundland & Labrador evolve in the coming years.

Virtual Canuck Splitfest Coming Up

The 11th annual Canuck Splitfest, presented by Eagle Pass Heliski, is next month from Jan 8–10. We’re doing things a little differently this year because of the pandemic. Splitfest was hatched from Revelstoke pow but this year we expect you to enjoy the riding at home, in your bubble, before joining the tribe online for three evenings of great speakers and presentations. The tradeshow and auction will also be virtual. It’s the same great community but with even more speakers and still lots of epic prizes.

Registration is open now for Canuck Splitfest. The auction and prize draws will go live on Jan. 2, 2021, so bookmark this link to get the jump on bidding.

Eagle Pass Heliski has donated a day of heli-accessed guided touring as the grand prize for Canuck Splitfest this year.
Photo by Sean Anley.

BRP/Ski-Doo Sled Loan

Snowmobiles are essential to Avalanche Canada’s public safety programs. They allow our field teams to collect valuable snowpack information and engage with riders in the field, where they recreate.

We are extremely grateful to BRP/Ski-Doo for supporting us this winter by loaning us two BRP Summit 850 snowmobiles for the 2020-21 winter season. These sleds have come to us through Banner Recreation in Vernon, BC.

Having these snowmobiles is even more important than ever as we expect to be sending our forecasters into the field more often to collect data for our forecasts. Thank you BRP.

Two loaner snowmobiles from BRP/Ski-Doo loaded onto an AvCan truck outside the Banner Recreation dealership in Vernon, BC. From left: Gilles Valade, executive director of Avalanche Canada; Kevin Marshall, general manager of Banner Recreation; Savanna Lebans, parts for Banner Recreation; and Mike Ross, sales for Banner Recreation. Photo by James Floyer

Forecasts in French

As part of our goal of becoming a truly national organization, Avalanche Canada forecasts are now available in French. Currently, we are translating the key elements of the forecast: the danger ratings, avalanche problem information, and terrain & travel advice. The headline and details page, which are written daily by the forecasters, are not being translated yet, but we are working on a process to translate them automatically and hope to implement it shortly.

To access French forecasts, click on the “settings” icon at the right of the main menu bar on and switch the language to French. Translated forecasts are currently only available on our website. We will be bringing them to the app in the future.

Surge on the MIN

We are extremely encouraged by the incredible number of observations posted to the Mountain Information Network so far this winter. Between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30 there were 663 submissions to the MIN, which is almost triple the number for the same period last year! These reports from backcountry users not only help out fellow recreationists with their decision making, but they also provide valuable information for our forecasters. This is especially important early in the season, when professional data is limited. We hope this trend continues throughout the winter.

Snowmobiler Mentorship Program

Avalanche Canada has launched a pilot project to provide mentorship for emerging snowmobile practitioners interested in professional level avalanche training. The project is designed to address some of the challenges they face in accessing mentorship opportunities. Mentees will be able to learn professional skills from Avalanche Canada field technicians and forecasters. Click here for details.

Program participants will be mentored in important skills, such as snowpack data collection. Photo by Martina Halik

Upcoming Webinars

Our online webinar series has been a huge success so far. More than 800 people attended our webinar on recognizing avalanche terrain and trip preparation and we've had at least 325 viewers for every one of our sessions. Here’s what we’ve got coming up:

  • Dec. 10: Choosing terrain for snowmobilers
  • Dec. 17: Riding out of bounds—what you need to know
  • Dec. 23: To be determined
  • Jan. 8–10: Canuck Splitfest

Remember, if you miss a webinar, you can watch the recording later on our website.

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