Take your snow and avalanche education seriously
How to Begin Learning
We can’t teach you avalanche safety, but here’s where to start:
Read a Book
We highly recommend Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, by Bruce Tremper. If you read a book prior to a Level 1 course the information in the course will be much easier to understand.
Ride with people that have more avalanche education than you
Don’t pick up bad habits and don’t fall victim to the Halo Effect, but riding with a partner that has more experience and education than yourself can help to further your knowledge in a practical environment.
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
TAKE AN AVALANCHE COURSE
LEARN TO USE YOUR LOCAL AVALANCHE ADVISORY
WATCH FOR THE 5 RED FLAGS OF THE BACKCOUNTRY
KEEP YOUR TERRAIN SELECTION IN LINE WITH YOUR FORECASTING ABILITY
BE AWARE OF WHERE YOUR CRITICAL DECISION POINTS ARE
MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON ACTUAL CONDITIONS, NOT WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO BE
BE PATIENT, THE MOUNTAINS AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE!
5 RED FLAGS OF THE BACKCOUNTRY
These rules of thumb provide you with indicators of snow-pack instability or increased avalanche hazard. Whenever you see one, or many, of the signs you need to take care to adjust your travel plans to account for this danger. Sometimes that means picking a different route, sometimes it means turning around.
SIGNIFICANT 24 HOUR SNOWFALL
Most human triggered avalanches occur within 24 hours of a snowfall. What is ‘significant’? Could be as little as 3″ or 4”.
Natural Avalanche Safety
If you see natural activity, it’s a sure bet you could also trigger avalanches on similar slopes.
Wind piles snow onto slopes creating dangerous slabs. If you see ‘plumes’ of snow coming off peaks or ridges, leeward slopes are likely loaded and primed for avalanche.
Collapsing Snow or Shooting Cracks
If you hear a “whumfing” sound when stepping onto a slope or meadow, this is a serious red flag for avalanche hazard. Similarly if you start onto a slope and see a shooting crack propogate from your skis or board, that slope is also primed to slide.
Rapid temperature rise can weaken bonds in the snowpack and increase the avalanche hazard. Be especially aware in the spring,
7 Terrain Tips for Backcountry Skiing
A MUST SEE FOR ALL BACKCOUNTRY ENTHUSIASTS