Is there anything better than shredding blower pow, off piste or out in the backcountry with the crew? Not Really. However, epic snow can also mean epic risks if you are not being smart and calculated. So read on! These are Snowboard Addiction's top 5 avalanche safety tips:
Hearing that crack as an avalanche sets off is pretty scary. Photo: Whitelines Magazine
1) Get Educated
First and foremost, if possible, enroll in an Avalanche Safety Training Level 1 course. These are generally around $200, but provide you with heaps of information and resources as well as the basic skills needed when you're out there in the mountains. Most courses include 1 full day in the classroom learning avalanche theory, with the second day spent in the mountains looking at the snowpack, analyzing route selection and companion rescue training.
If that's not possible, there are some mountains which offer free avalanche awareness tours. These tours are a great way to give you a taste of the awesomeness out there, but get you thinking about avalanche terrain and the dangers it poses.
2) Check Out Forecasts
You know how you always have time for snapchat and insta? Then you also have the time to check the avalanche forecast. In this day and age, there are heaps of ways to quickly check problems in the snowpack, wind affected areas and avy ratings for alpine, treeline and below treeline. Just check out these websites:
It is important to check these daily or just before a trip, as well as keeping track of the weather and snow patterns over the winter. By doing so, you will have a better idea of how the snow layers have developed and whether or not you run a risk while out in the back country.
3) Keeping As A Clan
It's a super simple one that has cost many people their lives. Ride with your friends, so if anything ever does happen they got your back. As a group, you can also make smart decisions on route selection, where to ride on the mountain, what features to ride and when to say no.
The crew scoping their lines and about to drop in.
Now this is where point 3 comes in, don't let the group force you into gnarly area's, making sure that you always...
4) Ride Within Your LimitsLet's be real here, you're not Travis Rice. Riding within your own limits means you won't be exposing yourself to dangerous situations you are unable to handle. Basically, you have instincts, listen to them!
Nev dropping bombs in the BC backcountry.
Now, don't mishear us on this one, we are not saying "don't progress", cause at SA we are all about progression! We are just saying, progress in the right conditions, on the right features and at the right time.
5) Get The GearEssentials = beacon, probe, shovel. Yeah, it is expensive, but when it can save your life, or your friend's, it's a small price to pay. You can find package deals that have a high-quality beacon included relatively cheap. Do some research and shopping around for something that will fit your needs and your budget.
These are the tried and tested essentials, but if you can stretch the back pocket you can look into getting an Avalanche Airbag or Avalung. These are more advanced pieces of equipment inside your pack that increase your chance of survival when the white wave strikes.
Just listen to what the big man Jeremy Jones has to say;
"Some day's the mountains are screaming GET OUTTA HERE and some days the mountains are going come on in - it's time to party!"
We all love shredding blower pow, and with the way resorts are going these days, more and more of us are searching for that freedom the backcountry provides. Use these tips to increase your knowledge of avalanches so we enjoy it safely, and shred well into the future.
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