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Adventurers need to make smart choices in the backcountry, expert says

The onus is on skiers and snowmobilers — not outdoor adventurecompanies — to be safe when riding backcountry, says a local adventurerand lifestyle coach after three more people died in avalanches inBritish Columbia.

The onus is on skiers and snowmobilers — not outdoor adventure companies — to be safe when riding backcountry, says a local adventurer and lifestyle coach after three more people died in avalanches in British Columbia.

Two French men died in a slide in Wells Gray Provincial Park near Valemont on Saturday while skiing with heli-ski guides.

On Friday, a 30-year-old Calgary man was killed in a slide while snowmobiling near Revelstoke.

This brings the avalanche death toll in B.C. to five in the past week.

Dave Norona, a Vancouver-based outdoor adventure guru and former ambassador of Adventure Smart B.C., said preventing avalanche deaths comes through education, not laws banning backcountry adventure.

“You can’t protect (people) from themselves,” he said. “People are going to go. Giving them more tools and education will help them make better choices.”

He said heli-skiing guides research the conditions and try to avoid volatile slopes, but some avalanches can’t be predicted.

In the case of the snowmobilers who triggered the deadly slide in Revelstoke last week, he said they should have known better and were “playing with a loaded gun” when they went up the hill.

“What’s not happening is people aren’t mitigating danger very well,” Norona said.

“If you want to go into the backcountry, take an avalanche course ... It scares you a little bit and that’s a good thing.”

He added that instead of legislating adventure sport, the government needs to invest in more programs promoting education and safety.

Gender difference?
The last 20 avalanche deaths in B.C. have been men. Why do men take more risks? See tomorrow’s Metro.