Be Safe This Winter – Especially in Avalanche Terrain

Photo credit: Raven Eye Photography

Photo credit: Raven Eye Photography

Written by the Canadian Avalanche Centre

Visiting a Sandman hotel for some winter fun this year? There’s something seriously magical about sliding on snow, whatever your method.  The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) reminds you that whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or anything else that gets you outside and onto the white stuff, you’ve got to be avalanche aware. Especially if you’re heading into avalanche terrain.

Photo credit: Raven Eye Photography

Photo credit: Raven Eye Photography

The backcountry can be an enticing place — it’s peaceful, awe-inspiring, invigorating, and it deserves your respect. Remember, the backcountry can be many miles from civilization, or it can be just beyond a boundary rope. Any time you’re going into the backcountry, remember the CAC’s three key safety messages: get the gear, get the training, and check the forecast. Essential avalanche safety gear is an avalanche transceiver, a probe, and a shovel. Training gives you the fundamentals of travelling safely in avalanche terrain — whether you’re new to the backcountry or have many days of experience under your belt, you owe it to yourself, your family, and your friends to know as much as you can about avalanche risk management. The avalanche forecast gives you avalanche danger ratings, crucial details about primary avalanche concerns, travel advice, info on avalanche activity, snowpack conditions, and forecast weather conditions for the region. Together, these pieces of the puzzle help you make better decisions in the backcountry.

So who is the CAC? We’re a not-for-profit, non-government organization dedicated to public avalanche safety in Canada. Founded in 2004, we coordinate public avalanche safety programs such as regional avalanche forecasts, deliver public avalanche awareness and education programs, provide curriculum and support to instructors of Avalanche Skills Training (AST) courses, act as a hub for avalanche information, and encourage avalanche research. We encourage safe, responsible backcountry use.

To enjoy the backcountry safely and responsibly, do your homework before you travel. Look through our online avalanche course for an intro to avalanche safety or a pre-season refresher (http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/training/online-course). Take an AST course in your hometown or while on your trip. (http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/training/ast). Check the avalanche forecast for the region you’ll be visiting (http://www.avalanche.ca/cac/bulletins/latest). Most importantly, have fun and stay safe.

Sandman is a sponsor of the Canadian Avalanche Centre and the Alberta Snowmobile Association’s billboard initiative for the 2013-2014 season. The objective of this program is to remind travelers to get important avalanche forecasts for three major routes in BC and AB.

Rider Nation – Saskatchewan’s True Love and Identity

Saskatchewan fieldsWritten by June De La Paz – guest blogger

Whenever anyone finds out that I grew up in Saskatchewan, they inevitably ask if I lived on a farm. They imagine that I drove a combine in overalls with a wheat straw dangling from my lips. That, or if I know their cousin/uncle/friend, so-and-so because Saskatchewan is a tiny, small, flat place where everyone knows everyone.

Truth be told, I had a pretty idyllic upbringing. I grew up in an area where many people didn’t lock their doors during the day. I rode my bike everywhere, including downtown and to the river. I took the bus or walked to school from the age of 9. During the hot, sweltering summers, my parents didn’t even look for me until sometime around dinner, and without mountains, the sun seemed to take forever to set. Then, there were the winters. The bright morning sun belied how bitterly cold it was outside. It didn’t matter how many sweaters or thermal underwear you had on, the cold bore its way through all of those layers to remind you how tough those Saskatchewan winters truly were.

Living in Saskatchewan was a right of passage. The spikes in the weather alone were enough to challenge the hardiest souls and still are. We didn’t have the tropical or Chinook winds to warm us. We didn’t have the bounty of the ocean or border large US cities or have mega malls to spend our money.

What we do have is the most loyal, butt-kickingest and craziest fans you will ever meet. And the rowdiest in Canada (ranked by MSN Sports). Fans wear watermelons. On. Their. Heads.

Roughrider Fans1Even though the Roughriders play in the smallest market in the CFL and are the second smallest major league in North America, they have led in away games attendance every year in the last 10 years. During away games in Alberta, Rider Nation makes up about ½ of the fans in attendance. Because it doesn’t matter where you live – once you have rider pride, it is for life.

Roughrider merchandise sales rank third in Canada for all major league sports, which includes hockey. What makes this more surprising is that the team has only won 3 Grey Cups in the last 100 years. Belonging to Rider Nation isn’t just about winning. Rider pride is about being tough, giving it your all and supporting your team through the good and the bad. Whether we win or lose, or move to another city, once a Rider fan, always a Rider fan.

You’ll never be able to fully understand what surviving a Saskatchewan summer or winter is like unless you experience it. This is an unspoken bond that unites us. Like many who left in search of greener pastures during an economic downturn, I no longer live in Saskatchewan. However, when I do meet someone from Saskatchewan, there is an immediate ease between us – a mutual understanding and downright respect, because it is earned. That is Rider pride and that is the heart of Rider nation.

RiderPride (3)June De La Paz is a freelance Marketer, specializing in the technology sector with the breadth of her experience in start-ups. She is currently working on launching her own line of natural skin care products for kids and adults. She grew up in Saskatchewan where her parents still reside.  She currently lives with her husband (who grew up in SK too), three extraordinary daughters in beautiful BC, and they all stay at Sandmans whenever they travel around Canada. They all belong to Rider Nation and have Rider Pride.

F1 Grand Prix races into Montreal

Formula One Grand PrixHailed as the biggest sporting event in the country, the annual Formula One Grand Prix fuels Montreal’s historic streets with excitement for weeks on end. And it’s finally here! Have fun this weekend Montreal.