07 Mar Avalanche Safety Tips!

The last few weeks of weather has been highly unpredictable. The high country is getting a large amount of snow and recently an influx of avalanches! Read these tips and make sure that you know what to do in case of natural disaster! Back Country alpine skiers/snowboarders, snowshoers and cross country skiiers are the most vulnerable.

  1. PREPARE: You need a partner, a beacon (worn over your midlayer, not in your pack), a shovel, a probe. And pack a puffy jacket and a fire starter.
  2. PRACTICE: Before heading out, have your partner put their beacon inside a pack and bury it , pinpoint its location with your transceiver and probe, then start digging. Another option is to head to one of 37 U.S. resorts that have beacon-training parks. If you haven’t gotten professional training yet, take an avalanche-safety course. [Locations of courses and beacon-training parks can be found at backcountry-access.com/education.]
  3. PAY ATTENTION: Avalanche warnings are generalized, and wind, temperature change, and snowfall can alter snowpack stability within hours. Look for recent avalanche activity, collapsing or cracking snow, and other warnings. If you’re skiing along flat terrain and the snow makes a rushing sounds, get out of the area as quickly as possible.
  4. WORK TOGETHER: Travel one at a time on 25-degree or steeper slopes, and leapfrog down mountainsides so you keep each other within sight. Don’t underestimate small slopes; they can slide. Make sure everyone knows the slope’s escape routes. Wait for each other out of a potential slide’s pathway.
  5. MOVE FAST: If an avalanche strikes, try to ski out of its way. If it hits you, fight to get one hand out of the snow and wave your other hand in front of your face to create an air pocket. If your buddy gets hit, note where they disappear and start searching below that spot. Look for obvious clues: gloves or a pack. They has a 92 percent chance of survival if they are uninjured and you rescue them within 15 minutes.

While ski resorts are usually more prepared and less susceptible to avalanches, it is useful to know what to do if you are directly caught in one. There are typically six things to remember and do to up your chances.

  1. Move to the Side. Once you see an avalanche heading your way, do not try to outrun it.
  2. Grab Something Sturdy.
  3. Swim.
  4. Hold One Arm Up.
  5. Create Room to Breathe.
  6. Stay Calm.

Keeping yourself safe while participating in winter sports should always your highest concern, remember these  tips keep yourself safe and prepared in case of emergency!


Austin Ellis