Waterton Lakes National Park

Prohibited activity: Custodial groups

Issued: July 26, 2023

Pursuant to subsection 7(1) of the National Parks General Regulations, the following activity is PROHIBITED in Waterton Lakes National Park:

Backcountry travel by any custodial group* in avalanche terrain described by the Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale (ATES) as class 2 and 3, between the dates of November 15 and April 30.

* A “custodial group” means a group affiliated with an institution, where at least one person is below the age of majority and that minor is not in the company of his/her parent or legal guardian. Institutions include but are not limited to schools, Scouts/Guides, churches, clubs, cadets, and community youth programs.


1. Subject to the following restrictions, authorization for a custodial group to travel in ATES class 2 avalanche terrain may be granted by the Superintendent:

     1.1 The custodial group must be led by a mountain or ski guide certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides or International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations.

     1.2 Maximum group size is nine (9) persons plus certified guide(s).

     1.3 Authorization for travel by a custodial group in class 2 terrain will only apply when the certified guide has rated the slope specific snow stability of that area to be ‘GOOD’ or ‘VERY GOOD’.

2. Backcountry travel by a custodial group in areas of the park designated as ATES class 3 avalanche terrain is prohibited.

3. Travel in ATES class 1 avalanche terrain is not restricted.


Description: Simple
Class: 1
Terrain Criteria: Exposure to low angle or primarily forested terrain. Some forest openings may involve the runout zones of infrequent avalanches. Many options to reduce or eliminate exposure. No glacier travel.

Description: Challenging
Class: 2
Terrain Criteria: Exposure to well-defined avalanche paths, starting zones or terrain traps; options exist to reduce or eliminate exposure with careful routefinding. Glacier travel is straightforward, but crevasse hazards may exist.

Description: Complex
Class: 3
Terrain Criteria: Exposure to multiple overlapping avalanche paths or large expanses of steep, open terrain; multiple avalanche starting zones and terrain traps below; with extensive crevasse bands or icefalls.

Further information can be found at Parks Canada information centers or at: http://www.parksmountainsafety.ca/

Avalanche terrain map

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