At Mustang Powder our #1 priority is your safety. We have developed a comprehensive safety program and have put together a team of guides made up of some the top and most influential professionals in the avalanche industry. All of our guides are members of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) as well as the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA), and many have been guiding for 20 plus years (for guide bios, please click here). The most important factor in risk avoidance is planning and preparation and we have developed our safety program with this in mind. Mustang Powder is also a member of the HeliCat Canada, ensuring that we meet a comprehensive set of operating guidelines.
When staying at a backcountry lodge, there are a couple safety issues which you must also be aware of. All of these issues are covered during our first night’s speech. At the lodge we have a first aid room with all the necessary supplies, so if you do need anything during your trip, i.e. ice, tensor bandages, band-aids, mole skin for blisters or anything else, please let us know. We also have an automatic external defibrillator (AED) at the lodge and our entire staff is trained to use it.
Every morning our guides meet to discuss conditions of the snow and decide on which runs are suitable to ski that day. Along with all of their first hand observations, our guides also read though the CAA’s InfoEx. This is the information exchange between most cat-ski, heli-ski and resort based operations around British Columbia. It includes weather and avalanche observations as well as any significant information about the snow pack at over 50 locations around BC. The InfoEx allows our guides to get a feel for what is happening around the province, and when combined with a thorough examination of all of their own observations, they are able to predict the conditions and plan their day accordingly.
Guest Safety Briefings
On the morning of the first day of your trip the guides will spend about 30 minutes with you talking about safety. They will cover all the important techniques for you to ensure your own safety along with some tips to help others out as well. After this safety talk we will head outside and the guides will spend about an hour doing transceiver training with you. This will be an opportunity to familiarize yourself with your transceiver and give you the confidence to use it. After the transceiver training there will be a cat safety talk to make you aware of all of the things you need to be conscious of when around the cats. Then it’s time to go skiing.
Guest Packs and Radios
Both cats at Mustang Powder are provided with 2 guest packs that are rotated throughout the guests during the ski day. Each of these packs includes 2 collapsible shovels, 2 avalanche probes and a small first aid kit. All of our guides and tail guides also carry a pack that includes a shovel, an avalanche probe, a larger first aid kit, as well as an extra layer. All of our guiding staff are required to have a radio with them at all times out in the field. These radios provide communication with the cats as well as the lodge from anywhere on our tenure. In the event of an emergency, our guides are able to radio the lodge, who would then call for back-up, allowing our guides to focus on the situation instead of being distracted dealing with arrangements.
Guides Training and Professional Development
Our guides continually update their first aid training and participate in avalanche rescue practice. During our staff training at the start of every season, we practice large scale avalanche rescue and emergency scenarios to ensure that we are fully ready for anything which may happen. We also have 2 beacon basins set up, each have multiple transceivers buried to allow our guides and staff to continually work on their transceiver skills. These training stations are dug up and re-buried at least every 2 weeks to change the position of the buried transceivers.
At Mustang Powder we also do some explosives control in certain locations. We use the explosives to artificially trigger instabilities in the snow pack in order make areas safe to ski.