Coronavirus: Rescue groups warn backcountry users to limit risk in Alberta, B.C. mountains

Rescue groups are asking backcountry users to choose low-risk activities at a time when resources are stretched due to COVID-19.

The Alberta government has asked ski hills in the province to close to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

It’s feared the closure could lure more outdoor enthusiasts into the backcountry to ski or snowshoe, given one of the best snowpacks in recent years.

Parks Mountain Safety, which responds to rescues in the mountain national parks, was not immediately available for an interview but it asked on social media for people to keep their personal risk to a minimum.

“Now is not the time to have a backcountry accident, which will stress the capacity of our teams and the medical system,” said a statement posted on the department’s Facebook page.

“Enjoy the fresh air, but please help everyone out by restraining your activities.”

Similar warnings have come from Kananaskis Public Safety in Alberta and Fernie Search and Rescue in British Columbia.

“Users should choose activities in areas that support emergency access and present minimal challenges and/or hazards,” Kananaskis Public Safety, which covers Alberta Parks, said on Facebook.

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