Avalanche

An avalanche is a mass of snow, often mixed with ice and debris, that can travel up to 90 kilometres per hour. Avalanches can occur when snow is wet, moist, or dry.

Over the last 10 years, the number of avalanche fatalities has increased to an average of 14 per year.

Risk of avalanche on the North Shore: High

Due to its mountainous terrain, North and West Vancouver are at a high risk for an avalanche, particularly when there is a lot of snowfall.

How to prepare

Before heading into the backcountry:

  • Check avalanche forecast bulletins
  • Tell someone where you plan to go and when you'll be back
  • Bring the right gear, including a first aid kit, drinking water, map, compass, GPS, transceiver, shovel, and probe  

If you drive, prepare an emergency kit for your vehicle.

What to do during an avalanche

If you are in your vehicle

If an avalanche occurs while you're driving:

  • Remain in your vehicle with your seat belt on. Drive to a safe location, if possible.
  • Do not attempt to drive through an avalanche. The force of an avalanche is impossible to outrun.
  • Try to get to the sides of the path the avalanche is traveling down.

If you are outside

If you become caught in an avalanche, try to:

  • Push machinery, equipment, or heavy objects away from you to avoid injury
  • Grab onto anything solid, such as trees or rocks, to avoid being swept away
  • Keep your mouth closed and your teeth clenched
  • If you start moving downward with the avalanche, stay on the surface using a swimming motion
  • Try to move yourself to the side of the avalanche

When the avalanche slows, attempt to:

  • Push yourself towards the surface
  • Make an air pocket in front of your face using one arm
  • Push the other arm towards the surface

Get notified of an avalanche

Learn more about avalanches