Being Safe in the Wilderness

“Don’t tempt fate when she has already indicated that she is in a bad mood.”

The wilderness is an unforgiving place, so being prepared is the key. Preparation can include hiring a guide, taking a wilderness first aid course, checking weather or avalanche forecasts, or taking precautions against infection. Here are a few relevant sites, especially Canadian ones. If you are visiting the Calgary area, and would like to experience the wonders of the Rockies safely, some of these companies can take care of all the arrangements.

Association of Canadian Mountain Guides The ACMG certifies mountain, ski, hiking, and other guides in Canada. You can consult their site to find the name of a guide in the area you are interested in, or to check on the certification of a guide.

AdventureSmart is a national prevention program focused on reaching Canadians, and visitors to Canada, who participate in outdoor recreational activities. Download the sample Trip Plan as a part of your activity preparation.

Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA) Avalanches are one of the main causes of death in winter mountain recreation. This site will help you avoid becoming a statistic. The CAA represents the avalanche community in Canada by promoting scientific and technical standards. They have the current avalanche danger ratings for the back country areas of British Columbia and Alberta. Check and heed their warnings when considering heading into the hills.

Avalanche Safety Resource Guide TripBuzz is the web’s most comprehensive resource to help you find fun and interesting things to do in your area.

Kananaskis Country Backcountry Report K-Country is a popular recreation area next to Banff National Park. Part of Foothills SAR’s primary response area, and covering thousands of square kilometres of the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, this rugged terrain is heavily forested. Althought it doesn’t have the curent risk levels, the site does have lots of good information.

Kananaskis Country Trails Report The trails report is updated weekly, or as conditions warrant. Also has lots of other good information, including current avalanche, weather and road conditions.

Cougars Management A brochure from the Alberta government about cougars; what they look like, where they live, and what to do if you encounter one.

Safety guide to cougars From the British Columbia government, information about cougars. Similar to the brochure mentioned above.

Living with fish and wildlife From the Alberta government’s Sustainable Resource Development department, the site has pages about cougars, bears and other wildlife, as well as information about diseases.

Bears in Alberta Also from Sustainable Resource Development, this site has many pages about bears in Alberta.

Alberta’s Sustainable Resource Development wildfires page Lots of information about Alberta and fires.

Provincial Emergency Program (British Columbia) Includes the current forest fire dangers and related activities in British Columbia.

Canadian Forest Service This federal government site has lots of information, some very detailed and technical, on the forest fire dangers, and how the ratings are calculated. Click on “current conditions”, then pick “Fire Danger” to see a national map of the danger levels. Includes historical data and maps going back to 1998.

Forest Fire Watch from The Weather Network Similar to the Canadian Forest Service, but less technical, and only current information.

FireSmart  If you live in a rural or forested area, there are things you can do to reduce the risk that wildfires will destroy your home. The FireSmart programme aims to tell you how. Note: this isn’t just an Alberta programme, use a search engine or phone your local forest protection office to find out if there are programmes in your area.