Snowmobile club hosts poker ride
Merritt Snowmobile Club is hosting its annual poker ride and chili run on Sunday, but this year, the club is using the event to teach members about avalanche safety.
That day, the club is holding an avalanche beacon search contest in conjunction with the Canadian Avalanche Centre’s Avalanche Awareness Days, which fall on Jan. 19 and 20.
“We’re trying to promote a culture of avalanche awareness and safety,” said Tracy Senio, a director with the snowmobile club and a certified Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 instructor.
An area on Thynne Mountain will be designated for the contest, in which adults will have to use their own equipment to find an avalanche beacon buried in the snow. The person who is able to locate the beacon the fastest will win a portion of the collected entry fees. Participants will pay $5 per try for up to three tries.
Senio said the contest is intended to refresh people on how to use their emergency equipment as much as to raise money for the club, which has just under 100 members, for its operations and maintenance costs.
“We just wanted to have a bit of a wake-up call,” Senio said. “We’ll see how many people know how to use their equipment. A lot of people have equipment, but they don’t know how to use it, or they have an idea of how to use it, and they aren’t using it properly. But after 15 minutes under the snow, the average victim’s chances of survival are pretty slim.”
Avalanche beacons both transmit and receive radio signals and are used to find people buried under snow. Other pieces of basic avalanche preparedness equipment, according to Senio, are avalanche probes, which are long, thin poles used to poke through the snow, and aluminum avalanche shovels. Senio said that as the technology in modern snowmobiles enhances, it becomes more important for riders to know how to use their emergency equipment.
“A modern snowmobile takes you places that you couldn’t believe, in the mountains, with little or no effort,” he said. “Basically, people are getting into more complex avalanche terrain and they’re not prepared to deal with it.”
The club is also offering refreshments and a chili lunch. The poker ride on Thynne Mountain starts at 9 a.m. in the Brookmere snowmobile parking lot, and the avalanche beacon contest starts at 10:30 a.m.
Senio is also planning to host a two-day, entry-level Avalanche Skills Training Level 1 course in Merritt on Feb. 23 and 24. The course is open to anybody for $325, or members of any snowmobile club can participate for $300.