With winter fast approaching or already here it’s time to awake that brain of yours and freshen up your backcountry safety skills. More and more snow enthusiasts are venturing out of bounds and it’s essential to make sure you are equipped with the proper knowledge to do so. Think about it, you wouldn’t venture out without one of your skis or boots. Avalanche education is just as important as the rest of your gear. Some may say, “Well, I am only going to go out, warm up my legs and see if I like it.” This rationality is putting yourself into unwelcome danger and it’s a big mistake! There are also those with the mentality that they’ve been out a 100 times and nothing has ever happened. That’s great, but like David Page’s the Human Factor article in Powder Magazine which we talk about here
…it only takes one mistake!
So, recommendations…go online checkout the resources in your local area and begin to prepare. Instead of going out the first time to see if you like it, start by tapping into the local resources. Many ski regions throughout North America have begun putting on early season workshops to get everyone ready for the monster El Nino winter. If you are really serious, avalanche training courses are now open to provide top notch education to allow you to be even more prepared. Where the snow has come down with a fury like in Revelstoke and Colorado some of the avalanche centers have started their daily outings to conduct snow science and collect data for early season condition reports.
Since avalanche conditions are specific to the area you plan to ride, it’s important to identify the center that makes observations and collects data in your region. For our home base, that is Sierra Avalanche Center. Each day they venture out to most of the backcountry locations around the great Lake Tahoe basin and record snow conditions. This then translates to a report that is created before most of us even get out of bed. Although snow conditions can change rapidly throughout the day and you must make your own observations, it’s nice to know what you are starting with. To see what they offer go here.
Where’s my avalanche center?
We know what you’re thinking. “Ok, that’s cool but what if I don’t live in Tahoe?” Well, for those not in our mountain range and wondering where to get your data no worries we got you! The American Avalanche Association provides an excellent resource highlighting the different centers across the U.S.
To find your center check out their map and select your region.
So whether you are a beginner or going out into the backcountry again this season. Brush up your skills, be safe and make decisions that will allow you to ride another day!