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Sledding in the backcountry is no joke, and should be treated with reverence and respect for the elements. Sledders remain the most at-risk group of backcountry users. According to the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA), from 2000 through 2010 snowmobilers accounted for 41 per cent of all avalanche fatalities; backcountry skiers, 29 per cent. But it is the trend that is somewhat disconcerting; whereas backcountry skiers have dropped from an average of six to 2.5 fatalities per year, snowmobilers have risen from a low of 3.2 to 7.2 fatalities per year, with a noticeable spike beginning around 2007/2008 season.
Since 2010, increased education in avalanche awareness and proper rescue equipment has begun to take hold in the sledding communities. Training courses oriented to sledders have been developed by guide organizations so that the information is relevant to mechanized means of travel and recreation in the backcountry. All sledders should undertake the minimum of an Avalanche Safety Training course (AST-1) and carry with them all the tools of survival and rescue, including a shovel, probe, and beacon — and always travel with a partner carrying the same. A list of certified AST providers along with avalanche hazard and terrain info can be found at the website of the Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC), avalanche.ca.
Sledding adventures in the Sea to Sky can be had at:
Canadian Wilderness Adventures
Canadian Outback Adventures
Totally Awesome Adventures
The Adventure Group (TAG)
Check with these providers for courses offered in sledding-oriented Avalanche Skills Training.