Through the year of 2020 and now into 2021 there have been large spikes of new excited people venturing out into the wilderness and backcountry areas that we are lucky to have access to here in Alberta. A huge part of successful outdoor activities (especially those in the winter) is a good knowledge of safety precautions so that everyone in your group gets to go home safe. We spoke with Timothy Taylor owner and head guide at Girth Hitch Guiding based out of Nordegg and David Thompson Country to get his top safety and sustainability tips for heading outdoors this year. He has extensive experience in leading and participating in adventure sports here in the Rockies as well as 5 years of search and rescue knowledge.
Here are his top 6 safety tips for your next adventure:
1. Safety does not have to be complicated. The first step to any adventure should be choosing the proper clothing. As Albertans we know that the weather can change quickly and get quite severe so layers are important. Always bring adequate layers and plan for the worst weather conditions in case things change while you are out. This way you will be warm, dry, and comfortable, for anything that comes your way.
2. Communication is key! While most associate the backcountry with being out of service there are a variety of areas along the David Thompson Corridor that don’t have cell service as well. Even though you may be close to the highway and your vehicle, it is important to have a second means of communication. This can be a radio/2-way setup or a device like an inReach or Spot locator. This will allow you to contact other members of your group or emergency services in case of an emergency.
3. Don’t wait until it is too late – Many people are nervous to call for help when there is an accident thinking that they can get themselves out of the situation. This is where a simple rescue can turn into a difficult one. Medical incidents need to be addressed and rescuers have a much better chance of being able to find you in the light of day. If you are in danger, call for help, rescue can take time!
4. If you are accessing the backcountry in the winter get educated on Avalanches. Start with taking your AST1 to get a base level of knowledge and make sure your adventure partners are educated as well. Learning from a professional is the best way to fast forward your knowledge in the backcountry!
5. Follow your gut – Manage the risk of outdoor activities and play within your comfort zone!
6. Research the weather and conditions of the areas you are heading into. This will help you prepare properly as well as dress appropriately. Prior planning prevents poor performance!
We also wanted to touch on how to look after our lands while we are in the outdoors. With large amounts of people visiting some of our favorite areas it is important to look after them. This is as simple as using government appointed toilets, garbage cans, and parking areas.
Another important thing to remember is wildlife. While bears hibernate during the winter there are still many wild critters that are active during these months. Make sure to properly store and dispose of any food and garbage that you may have. This includes around camp, on the trail and in your vehicles.
Alberta Environment and Parks also plays a roll in keeping these outdoor areas accessible to us by providing toilets at the trailheads and campsites for our use.
Lastly, we want to mention that our local community Nordegg is a great gateway to the David Thompson Corridor. While passing through you can find all your last-minute essentials, local expertise, and even tasty homemade snacks.
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