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Slackcountry / Out of Bounds Skiing

It’s Wild Out There!

There’s hardly anything more tempting to a powder loving downhill skier or snowboarder than an untracked slope just a few minutes’ hike from the top of a chair lift. But before you duck that rope or hike around the backside of a CLOSED sign, do just a little bit of homework that could keep you alive to be getting face shots for many years to come.

 Closed areas at ski hills are clearly marked
Closed areas at ski hills are clearly marked.
© Parks Canada / Brad White

Closed or Out of Bounds

Areas within a ski hill’s run map that are marked CLOSED are closed for not just your safety, but for other people on the hill too, including the rescuers who would be obligated to try and save your butt if your got into trouble there. NEVER go there. In the Mountain National Parks, out of bounds areas are everything outside a ski area’s boundary line. While the slopes inside the ski hill boundary are controlled with explosives and other measures to prevent avalanches from happening, EVERYTHING outside a ski area’s boundary line is uncontrolled. That means when you chose to take your skis or board beyond the boundary, you are in avalanche terrain. This is the real thing. Every decision you make in avalanche terrain counts. The wrong decision could result in an avalanche that kills you or your best buddy. To learn how to make the right decisions, read on...

Be Cool - Know Before You Go

If you haven’t yet, sign up for an Avalanche Skills Training Course to learn how to how to identify avalanche terrain, understand the conditions and factors that cause avalanches, plan and carry out a backcountry trip, carry out a companion rescue and use appropriate travel techniques when travelling in avalanche terrain. Before setting off on your trip, check the weather forecast and the Public Avalanche Forecasts. Check out the Winter Backcountry Checklist too. Don’t leave the trailhead unless everyone in your group is wearing an avalanche transceiver and carrying a shovel and probe, and knows how to use it. Practice often! Visit your nearest Beacon Basin. Don’t allow yourself to become too fixated on a single destination just because it’s your only day off and it dumped last night – that’s the most dangerous time to be in avalanche terrain. Drop by the patrol hut at your favourite ski hill and get to know the pro patrollers there. They will be happy to help you decide where to go when the conditions are right.    


Like us on the Parks Mountain Safety Facebook page page and @ParksMntSafety Twitter feeds for real time updates on road closures due to avalanche control.

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Everything outside the ski area boundary is uncontrolled avalanche terrain
Everything outside the ski area boundary is uncontrolled avalanche terrain.
© Parks Canada